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?