Leave a Legacy
Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project. He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.
Apr 09, 2013
From Legacy Moment (04/05/2013).
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It's important to have a plan for conflict before it even erupts, emphasized Molly Darling, a communication specialist and guest on "Leave a Legacy TV." "The best time to plan for conflict is when there isn't any," she added, sending me on a search for a conflict resolution strategy I can share with readers, advisers and families engaged in the succession planning process.
That was almost four years ago, and I've finally discovered a concise outline that I hope will help you and your family as you engage in or continue to plan for succession. We all acknowledge that planning for the eventual transition of your farm is an emotional process. It involves money, careers, assets, future opportunities, multiple generations and all manner of related decisions. When the topic comes up, everybody gets tense, some participants get defensive and tempers can flare.
So, what do you do? I've always recommended a cooling off period and adherence to a set of agreed-upon behavior guidelines. Beyond that and until now, I was at a loss.
Though a bit simple (Remember, Einstein said, "Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler."), the following five alternatives might give you and your family a few approaches to consider when things get contentious:
1. Compromise: Form an agreement that addresses the wants and needs of more than one.
2. Accommodate: Accepting the terms/conditions of the other party and/or persuading the other party to accept your terms/conditions.
3. Avoidance: Agreeing to avoid a contentious topic and not letting it distract, undermine or preoccupy participants from otherwise important matters.
4. Collaborate: All parties working together to avoid discord and resolve conflicting issues. Collaboration might be seen as a compromise or it can be used to devise a solution that is better than any single individual might recommend—as in a synergistic relationship.
5. Compete: Members of a group consciously taking a side in a disagreement to resolve the issue and move onto constructive matters.
News & Resources for You:
For more common sense on communication, view the full interview with Molly Darling.
These discussion points might help to work through uncomfortable but solvable situations.
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Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.