Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Facilitation of farm succession is something I am very passionate about. Done well it keeps families together and farms in business, done badly, or not at  all, family support systems can be destoyed and so can businesses. My passion is driven from my own personal experience growing up on a family farm and marrying into a family farm, one family handled succession well and the other very badly.

These personal experience led me to completing Farm Family facilitation training with Lyn Sykes from Dubbo, ToP Facilitation training, Coaching training and an MBA so I could assist farming families with succession planning in a constructive way.

Accountants, lawyers and financial planners all play important roles in the succession process and often the most overlooked role is that of the facilitator. The facilitator will ensure the tough questions and the emotions are dealt with – they aim to assist the family achieve outcomes with shared understanding and common agreement.

Getting the whole family together is key to the shared understanding ….and I mean the “whole” family. The most successful meetings we have facilitated have included everyone involved in the farming business, this includes the siblings and their partners. The meeting provides an opportunity for everyone to put forward their views and perceived role in the future of the farm as well as their personal goals.

The other big misconception is that succession planning is about Will’s… this is only one part of the discussion. Succession planning is more accurately described as strategic planning or planning for business continuity. It includes discussions about business mentoring, business transition, roles and responsibilities, expectations and goals, retirement plans, plans for business growth, housing and more.

I’m not saying it is an easy process. Many families have never sat around the table and shared their hopes, goals and dreams for the future and at first it can be uncomfortable. After five years of working with families in South Australia I am still passionate about doing whatever can be done to keep families and farm together.

I would love to hear your comments…

What is your most pressing question about succession planning on farms?

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Comments on: "Farm succession facilitation for business continuity" (5)

  1. Great work Jeanette,
    My question on succession planning is, I’ve recently had a couple of clients going through a succession planning process where the Accountant they (or their parents) are using is very obviously working for one party and trying to shaft the other. Any suggestions on what to do with that!!

  2. I agree that succession planning has a tendency to hit some very raw nerves and unearth unexpected thoughts and feelings that can leave the whole group having an emotional roller-coaster of an experience.
    I want to know if there is a way to help the in-laws (usually wives) to feel more included in the process? Feeling more like a fashion accessory and not valued in the planning or worthy can lead to feeling bitter or at the bottom of the pecking order.
    From personal experience and from that of many of my friends it is very difficult to be included in what the spouse is involved with as a birth right and business partner without stepping on the toes of the rest of the family and coming across as greedy, demanding or wanting change.
    Can spouses be incorporated differently or separately so that each party has ownership and satisfaction in the process?

  3. Tracy Cross said:

    Thanks for the opportunity to follow your blog, well done, Getting started on what to start on is the Question for me, the rest of the family aren’t ready for this topic as yet, I have planted the seed, do I wait or try and make progress.

  4. Michael said:

    Thanks Jeanette, optimising the business & investment structure, retaining flexibility & where to get good advice.

  5. Michelle said:

    Yep, succession planning. What should have been a hot topic in the 80’s ready for now…. but alas, most don’t think that far ahead.

    If parents don’t wish to bring the whole family into the discussion, and only one or two parties, or discuss with all three privately, how do you ensure that the communication is not used against each party? Are there strategies to alleviate stress and ‘the unknown’?

    And… as the ‘outsider’ what ways can you stay indifferent?

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