Helping Farm Dads Let go of Control and Stop Micro-Managing - Elaine Froese | Canada’s Farm Whisperer | Your go-to expert for farm families who want better communication and conflict resolution to secure a successful farm transition


Helping Farm Dads Let go of Control and Stop Micro-Managing

by | Nov 3, 2022 | Farm Family, Farm Family Coaching, Grainews Articles

7 signs your Farm Manager is micromanaging

  • They must know everything.
  • They don’t delegate.
  • They ask for frequent updates.
  • They discourage independent decision-making.
  • They dictate how tasks should be done.
  • They re-do other employees’ work.
  • They don’t show trust in their team.

Farm founders, men, and women need to let go of being the ultimate decision-maker as they mentor the next generation to be the main manager. This is not an easy dance. You need to learn to let go of being in control of every part, however small the enterprise or activity…that is the definition of micro-managing.

Why do Farm Dads dictate how tasks should be done? Why don’t they trust you?

These are good questions to ask your manager. There is a lot going on in the story your dad or mom is telling themselves about how the farm will be successful in the future. They are afraid, and they cannot let you know their fears.

What are they afraid of?

  1. You are going to fail and lose everything they have worked for in the past 4 decades. This is fear of failure.
  2. They are losing sight of who they are, their identity. If they are no longer the “person in charge” who are they? When they are no longer the ultimate decision maker who are they?
  3. Equity and security of finances and income stream are important as they age. They are reluctant to sell you land as they need that security of income stream for the next 3 decades. They don’t want to lose wealth. How about buying out some equipment first?
  4. Farmers with unhelpful beliefs are behaving the way they think things should be. You may have a different idea of how to do things, and think “different is not wrong, it is just different”. Culture is the glue holding your farm together, it’s how you behave, how you decide, and what you believe to be true. If Dad believes there is only his way of doing things, you are working with a very stubborn operator. If Mom believes she has no financial security, she needs a financial planner and accountant to help her navigate a new farm structure or agreements so you can start leveraging some of your own equity.

If you are arguing often and stomping away in frustration, it’s time for a new dance. This is not the conflict avoidance dance; this is getting folks to the table to create solutions.

Do you as the successor have a clear business plan and vision for how you want to gain more management skills, and make more decisions independently of your founding parents?

Do you understand the need for more financial transparency? If you are not a party to the cash flow or debt servicing, you are simply an employee, not a future business partner.

Can you give feedback in a respectful way to the founders when you feel you are being micro-managed?

Do you have a learning plan to gain more skills in farm management and human resources so you can start taking the lead with decision-making for your operation?

When folks need to know everything is this a sign you are not communicating often enough so folks know what the plan for operations is and the strategy for transition? When people get cranky it is wise not to make assumptions. It is smart to ask deeper questions like “What is going on for you right now? “Why are you needing so much information?”

A farm partner who is feeling overwhelmed is having a hard time considering hiring a cleaning lady and outsourcing her grass-cutting duties. Letting go and learning to delegate tasks is an ongoing challenge for folks who live by the code “I should be able to do it all”.

Folks are more willing to let go of things when they have something wonderful to move toward.

As farmers step back without stepping away, they want to know all tasks are well taken care of. 

If you have regular business meetings, you can implement a great accountability system of reporting which keeps everyone on track.

If you want to build trust you need to show care for the values of others, show up with competence and do your job well, and be committed by being reliable and trustworthy with integrity.

I suspect gaining more skills in conflict resolution will help you be braver and more effective in creating solutions with a tough manager. 

Can you think about what your dad is going through at his age and stage on the farm? Ask with the phrase, “I’m just curious Dad, why is it so hard for you to share decision-making in this business? What are you afraid of?”

Share your emotions of frustration. Express your emotions and disappointment as you continue to wait for more opportunities to build your own equity and manage the farm operations.

Reach out to other peers for their support and suggestions of how they have found ways to encourage founders to let go.

Think reflectively about your timelines and business vision. What enterprise do you want to have total control over? By when?

Build your conflict resolution skills. Click here to purchase the online Conflict Dynamic profile assessment with some coaching.

Respect what each generation brings to the management team. Experience is a good teacher. 

New ways of doing things are not wrong. Have a ton of grace and forgiveness for mistakes when they happen and choose to find new solutions as a team. As farmers age, they need to be respected for their wisdom and insights. Young farmers need to be heard.

Reach out to our coaching team here when you are ready to find harmony through understanding each other and gain new communication skills to help you let go. Download the complimentary Ultimate Decision Maker tool to identify what you’ll need for a successful family farm succession.

Yes, you are a farmer. You are also a human being. Be kind and respectful to all. What you do for a living does not totally define who you are. What new things would you like to move toward? 


Elaine Froese, CAFA, CSP, CHICoach navigates expectations with her farming husband and successor son near Boissevain, Manitoba. Book her here to speak at your next event.

Did you enjoy Helping Farm Dads Let go of Control and stop micro-managing? You might want to check these articles out too:

You are not alone
Encouraging Farm Fathers
Cowboys coached to embrace courageous communication

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1 Comment

  1. Nancy

    Do you have any advice for wives and children who are not part of the farm, do not feel welcome there, and have trouble accessing their husbands or father? This is a lonely life with these men gone so much during 9 months of the year and every Sunday.


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