Three Traits for a Successful Succession Plan

When it comes to creating your succession plan, many things can lead to its success or failure. After years of sitting in on succession planning workshops, however, we’ve found some common traits that overcome the difficulties to create a successful plan.

Kindness and Empathy

Showing kindness and empathy, especially when others in the family aren’t or you’re under pressure is tough. However, this is critical in succession planning as it can be a balance of everyone’s goals and ambitions and so understanding a different point of view is vital.

It’s easy to forget the way family members act is influenced by their own concerns and issues. Regardless of the circumstances you shouldn’t be a pushover because you’ll never understand why they are reacting the way they are. Instead, listen, empathise and show some kindness in order to keep the succession planning process on track.

Gratitude

We all know working on the farm isn’t easy. It’s stressful, hard work and you are largely at the mercy of the elements, but we’re much better off than many other family businesses. That’s because in most cases the farm is handed down through the generations passing on a net worth significantly higher than the average Australian. Despite this and the significant growth agriculture has experienced over the last 20 plus years, many farming families are hard on themselves because of communication issues or they are having difficulty with some aspects of the farm.

Not being able to appreciate what we have can be destructive and shut off potential opportunities as people talk them down or put them in the too hard basket. Instead, think about the fortunate position you have and be grateful.

Patience

As advisors we’re stunned by the loss of a successful operation because impatience derailed succession planning talks. We’ve seen this happen from first generation farms to families whose property has been in the family for over 100 years.

The key thing to remember is there’s plenty of time to do the things you want professionally and personally even for those living and working well into their 80s. The next generation has decades to build their family and farming practices, even those in their 60s may have twenty plus years of working on the farm. With all this time each generation should recognise there will be a long time sharing the farm and working together when balancing their goals.

Patience is needed to work through life changing events like business and land transfers or changes in roles. Don’t let impatience derail the family business!

Being mindful of these traits can take the stress out of succession planning and create a more open environment to talk through any issues raised.

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