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Farming can be many things; a way of life, a great entrepreneurial opportunity, a place to raise your children, a multi-generational family business, a place to let your dog run free without bothering the neighbours, a place to go for a walk or ride your horse or quad or snow machine for miles without leaving your own property, a place to breathe farm fresh air, a quiet place to hear yourself think… and, it can also be very lonely.
Peer group participants have found significant value, during the rich management based discussions that occur during peer group meetings, that they can take away and apply to their individual circumstances. They have formed friendships and a support network that they can connect with between meetings. They have created an informal team environment (something that typically only occurs in other industries), and have removed an element of solitude that is very typical of operating a farm business.
The facilitated family meeting is a safe place to deal with tough issues, create certainty, and a roadmap for the future. As written by author, consultant and professional mediator, Lance Woodbury, “when it comes to family businesses, management, succession and estate planning, the conversational dance that occurs between generations can be downright frustrating”. In addition to creating a time and space for safe and open discussion, consider the goals and values of the people involved to create clarity and dispel some of the myths, fears and misunderstandings that may be lurking in your family and business.
The conversations that flow out of the family meetings can be risky, but are essential. Without them, people make assumptions, which often lead to conflict that the silence is intended to avoid. When it comes to family business decisions regarding ownership and management, don’t let your family “pass in the night”.
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