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Trust always affects two measurable outcomes: speed and cost. When trust goes down—in a relationship, on a team, in a company, in an industry, with a customer—speed decreases with it. Everything takes longer. Simultaneously, costs increase. Redundancy processes, with everyone checking up on everyone else, cost more. In relationships, on teams, in companies, that’s a tax. I call it a low-trust tax where literally everything is being taxed off the top. Where trust is low, everything takes longer and costs more.” ~ Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust

Imagine how much better life would be if trust on the farm was not an issue. When a farm founder trusts the next generation, it is a beautiful thing to behold. The spirit of generosity is fully empowered to help each generation find success in their roles. When people trust each other, you save heaps of time because you don’t blame, shame, or feel nervous about your choices to act. You have a culture where everyone believes the other team members are working as their best selves. Communication and behaviour are respectful, safe, and open. Decisions are made efficiently, with the speed of good trust.

rust on the farm was not an issue

How would you rate the trust level of your farm team?

Have you ever stopped to think about what you could do to improve the degree of trust between the generations?

Do you even think there is hope for trust to improve with some care and attention to it?

The tips in this blog post will help you asses your current situation so you can build trust on the farm and work together better as a team.

[Tweet “Your #farming operations could go much more smoothly with more #trust between your farm team members! In my latest blog, I am sharing a 5-question assessment perfect for #farm founders and successors:”]

5 Important Questions to Ask to Boost Trust on the Farm

A recent, emotionally charged meeting is fueling this post. The founder was agitated as I drilled him with questions about what he was truly afraid of in doing the transition plan. He grabbed my marker and asked to write on the large, white, blank sheet of my beloved flipchart. I was thrilled to say, “yes!”

We witnessed a breakthrough in communication at that very moment.

Circles of wealth and depleted savings were drawn on the parent’s side of the sheet. Circles of structure and question marks were drawn on the successor’s side of the sheet.  Very clearly, the lack of trust on the farm was related to the lack of financial transparency between the generations as well as the perceived loss of parental wealth and transfer of farm assets to other real estates. 

Over 25 years ago, accountability expert David Irvine created these 5 Important Questions about Trust. His questionnaire was meant to be filled out by adult children, but I think these are worthy questions for both founders and successors.

5 Important Questions to Ask to Boost Trust on the Farm

  1. How much do I feel trusted to take over this operation?

I would add here that your answer should be in the range of 1 to 10 to give this level of trust on the farm a concrete number. One is not at all, and 10 is very much so. A number helps each party understand how close or far away they are in terms of their perception of trust. If both parties give it an 8 there is a mutual understanding; if one person says 8 and the other says 2, then you have a real gap in understanding each other’s perceptions of trust.

  1. What fears do I have of taking over control?  

Believe it or not, many young farmers are afraid of not doing enough to please their parents. They also fear failure in servicing debt. They are not sure that their family life is going to survive the workaholic tendencies of the older generations, so they are worried about how much time they can devote to farm labour compared to their elders.

  1. How much do I want to take over the operation? Is there goodwill here? 

Yes, the next generation is passionate about farming and being in profitable business. If there are unreasonable salaries or compensation rates, maybe this is not a good idea. Will the older generation be helpful with a generous spirit or expect to be paid top dollar for every nut and bolt?

  1. What do I want from my parents that will strengthen the level of trust in this family?

I suspect the young farm couple wants security. That comes with well-written agreements, decent cash flow, and timelines that are reasonable. They are tired of emotional outbursts or promises that are not fulfilled. They also want to know that the business will be kept intact and not sliced up like a pie to meet the expectations of the non-farm heirs.

  1. How much can I talk openly about the answers to the above questions to family members involved in the business?

We worked on this openly in our facilitated meeting, yet there is much personal work to do. Covey believes that trust can be rebuilt, and so do I. It takes lots of action, being true to what you say and do. For the families I work with, it also helps to do a conflict dynamic profile to figure out which positive conflict behaviours—like perspective taking, creating solutions, and sharing emotions—can be intentionally strengthened. 

This assessment is done online for $55 per person. For more information, ask for CDP at elaine@elainefroese.com.

On the subject of trust on the farm, I want to thank you as readers for your trust in me to tell you the hard truths about the journey of farm families as they work to build profitable businesses and eventually transfer ownership to their successors. In my decades-long career in coaching and sharing wisdom for Grainnews and on my blog, I can tell you that trust on the farm is absolutely essential. When you experience deep trust, it frees you up to do amazing things without second-guessing yourself or your relationships. Now just imagine how amazing that would feel on YOUR farm. Share these questions with your farm family, and come together to discuss your answers and resolve your differences. I said it before, but it bears repeating: trust on the farm CAN be rebuilt, and it can be strengthened. The only way to get there is to put in the work.

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.

$15

Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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