Have a family farm that you would like to continue in future generations? Success often depends on careful planning that includes frequent family meetings with everyone involved, including spouses, according to AgWeb.com’s article “Family Meeting Fundamentals.”
Other strategies that are recommended include meeting in a neutral location, holding short meetings on a regular basis, and setting clear goals.
Families who want to hold one meeting a year that covers every single aspect of the succession plan, end up with a room full of confused and sometimes agitated participants. Meetings that occur on a more frequent basis are more likely to succeed, since the process is complex and takes time to work through.
Make sure to include everyone. Leaving out a family member, like a spouse, can create resentment and lead to angry side disputes. Don’t create trouble, where none is needed!
Be smart about selecting a date for the meetings to take place. Steer clear of holidays, as there are usually enough emotional pitfalls for most families to deal with, without adding the family business into the mix.
Select a neutral location where everyone can feel comfortable and that is free of distractions. You really do want their full attention. Select a convenient pleasant location to make these meetings welcoming and attractive.
Set an agenda for the meeting, so you are focused on specific topics and tasks.
You may find you need an outside facilitator to help, if your group dynamics are not working well. If there’s one person who tends to dominate conversations during social gatherings and family meetings, it will be hard to be productive.
If you are working with an estate planning attorney, who is experienced in family businesses and particularly with the special challenges of family farms, he or she may be able to help you run the meeting better than if one of the family members steps up to take the lead.
Reference: AgWeb.com (May 29, 2018) “Family Meeting Fundamentals”