Oftentimes, we work with agribusinesses that have long-term key employees who are critical to the success of the operation. Without these capable successors and employees, many businesses do not survive the departure of the owner. The chance for endurance is further diminished if key employees choose to jump ship instead of adapting to the new owners and management. Therefore, a comprehensive succession plan should contain strategies to identify and retain these essential team members. Even if the owner has named a qualified successor (often a family member), key employees usually are essential – to lend stability, and to ensure the business continues to grow and prosper.
An ownership/management transition can cause key employees to question their continued role and value to the business. They may have concerns about the operation’s future and their own job security. A key employee also may be reluctant to train and mentor a successor (often a family member) who is not sufficiently experienced to take immediate control. The concern is that, once trained, the family member could eventually take the key employee’s position. Therefore, it’s often necessary to offer key employees additional incentives to ensure they remain with the operation and support the successor(s). In addition, in the event of an unanticipated death to the owner, a key employee may be the most appropriate candidate to serve as interim manager until the ultimate successor(s) is trained, qualified and prepared to the lead the business into the future.
In my next blog, I will discuss successful retention strategies that will help entice key employees also to be long-term employees.