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Susan Forward, author of Emotional Blackmail gave me a key phrase for coaching that is life-changing, she used the term “Where is it written… (insert issue)? As a farm family coach who is currently in her third succession/transition journey, I would like to challenge you with “Where is it written that transition planning has to be tough?”

If you’ve read your December 2021 Country Guide you’ll know that Kurt and Harley Siemens paired up for growth. I met these wonderful folks at an Egg Farmers seminar. They are a shining example of working things out for their future legacy by building on the existing foundation of trust and open communication. They also had an enthusiastic accountant and a banker who toured their operation. Yes, they had arguments, discussions, and crying, resulting in siblings having share options, but in their photos, they are smiling!

Is your advisor keeping you stuck and making things hard? Our accountant and her tax specialist met with us and our successors at our home in the middle of summer, but that was several months after we had done initial coaching meetings. Many of you are procrastinating, saying “We’ll do this after Christmas (which is now), or after calving, or after seeding, or after spraying, or after haying, or after harvest or after Christmas!” Do you see what just happened? Another year has gone by and nothing has changed except everyone is another year older.

Our accounting firm coach, Peter Manness, came to visit us with his large post-it notes paper which he slapped on my kitchen wall. He talked to us as founders, then to the successors, and then invited us all in the same room to visualize what we all wanted the future to look like. We talked about income stream, housing, fairness to the non-farm sibling, and some structure ideas. The ideas came from us, not a cookie-cutter template from the accountant. We also used personal style profile assessments to figure out who was task-oriented, influential, detail-oriented, and good with people. If you want to do an inexpensive assessment online for $55 per person email elaine@elainefroese.com. I’ll send you sample reports and set you up for finding out how your team is wired.

Colin Sabourin of Harbourfront Wealth Management in Winnipeg calls farm transition a journey. He encourages clients to first decide what they want, doing this exercise with a trusted adviser, and a family coach. He can give clarity on Lifestyle Planning before heading into tactics with the accountant or lawyer. I highly recommend seeing a financial planner first to figure out what you want for your life as you let go of the management of the business or start higher degrees of collaboration with the next generation. Visit www.cafanet.ca/advisor-listing/ to find great advisors who care about agriculture in your area.

Many farmers who approach me for coaching initially cannot tell me what they truly want. No one has asked them. This takes time to process. One of my clients left the country for a month to visit his homeland and get clarity on what he truly wanted to “let go” of. You might want to book off some “thinking and pondering time”, perhaps a week or 2 in a warmer locale where work is not calling you to the bin or the barn.

Transitioning management and ownership of a farm business is a journey. The Chinese say “you begin the journey of 1000 steps with the first step”. Your attitude about conflict needs to be positive, knowing that positive conflict behaviours are going to help everyone get what they want.

Here’s a list of positive behaviours tested with my conflict dynamic profile online tool:

  • The ability to create solutions.
  • Expressing emotions.
  • Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, being able to see things from more than one perspective.
  • Willingness to be adaptable and let go.
  • Reaching out to keep the process of decision-making ongoing. Not letting the process get stuck, being willing to drive accountability for appointments with coaches, planners, and accountants.

The conflict dynamic profile is available online (email elaine@elainefroese.com). A farm family client with a MBA felt this tool was one of the most valuable things to find better communication with the founders. The tool also identifies the not so helpful behaviour like hiding emotions, and self-criticizing, as well as 10 hot buttons.

Would your transition journey be smoother with a map?

Sometimes a farmer asks me for my “checklist” for a great succession experience. Each family’s business dynamic is unique, yet there are many things to navigate. We don’t stop exploring and having adventures when the road gets a bit bumpy. Here’s my farm family harmony map to help you find harmony through understanding ™ as you transition:

  • Plan your approach, get folks to the table to talk and gain perspective.
  • Know that culture beats strategy so work on your aligned values, behave well with one another, and practice shared decision making.
  • Embrace conflict resolution as a business risk management strategy as you share your intent with each other, and then feedback on how those intentions affect you.
  • Identify the tough issues, the bull in the middle of the room that folks are avoiding, and start discussing the “undiscussabull”™, the pinch points keeping you up at night.
  • Open the farm books for financial transparency to share your attitudes and expectations about income streams, personal wealth bubbles, debt servicing, and gifts to non-farm heirs. This is finding fairness in farm transition and is working towards everyone being successful.
  • Deal with expectations that are not workable, things like entitlement or greed.
  • Accept the voice and input of the in-laws who bring many skills to the farm team, be willing to create clear job descriptions for all.
  • Finally, gather for a formal session with a flipchart and a well-thought-out agenda to have a robust farm family vision meeting to kickstart your journey of transition.

Hit your red Staples “That was EASY” button. Again, where is it written that transition planning must be hard? It’s a workable journey. Please take steps now to create certainty for your family. I’m here to help.

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Elaine Froese, CAFA, CSP, CHICoach wants agriculture to thrive with more family harmony through understanding. Visit www.elainefroese.com/contact. Book her to speak virtually or in person with your association to kickstart your transition success.

Did you enjoy Transition Planning does not have to be tough? You might want to check these articles out too:

A New Frame to see Transition Possibility and Movement
Who gets to do what on this farm? A family roles guide.
“Shut down” Insights to get folks to the transition table to talk

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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