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.
Key Employees in the Conversation
Jan 18, 2012
From Legacy Moment (01/13/2012).
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"Key employee" is one of those self-explanatory terms. Any person who is critical to your organization may be a key employee. When the term is used loosely, most people think of long-term and/or loyal employees, but that might not be correct. A well tenured employee may be valuable to the organization, yet not necessarily ‘key’ to its continuing success. A key employee is crucial to operational success. He or she possesses skills, abilities and/or intellect that may be very difficult and expensive to replace or replicate.
On the farm, a key employee may have specific knowledge, unique talents or unconventional expertise that may allow you to focus on other areas of the operation. He or she may permit you to create a marketable value proposition that you otherwise wouldn’t have. Your key employee may be your shadow, a person with a good head for business, building a team and growing the operation—someone you can rely on no matter what.
Thorough succession planning will include a discussion about key employees and their role in your operation. Like other assets of the operation, human capital is crucial to success. Experience takes time to gain and expert abilities cost an inordinate amount of money. The loss of a key employee during the process of transition may be detrimental to the business. It could jeopardize financial strength, management capabilities and alliance relationships.
Keep in mind that just as a business owner is concerned about retaining the key employee, the key employee is also wondering about job security and changing roles during the succession planning process.
The key employee wants to know:
• Is my commitment to the operation appropriate?
• Are my contributions recognized and appreciated?
• What role will the new management successor fill?
As you wade into the succession planning arena, make sure to include your key employees in the discussion.
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Vince Lombardi proclaimed, "Winning is not a sometime thing, it’s an all-the-time thing." As you and your family strive for all-the-time success, do you have a comprehensive plan in place?
Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS