Communication, what have you got to say
December 18, 2012
What a great time it was to discuss and communicate with so many producers and ranchers at the 2012 64th Annual Cattlemen's Convention in Huron, SD. There was definitely something of interest for everyone that attended. While I was there, I attended the Estate Planning session. If your family operation is deciding what to do with estate planning, it is very crucial that you talk to an estate planner AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Some of the government changes that could go into effect as soon as Jan 1, may be detrimental to our ranches.
In our program with our clients, we like to start the communication with ranchers about the transition of the partnership to the next generation. Communication between parents and possible heirs to the business isn't always something that is easy to discuss during lunch or at family gatherings.
How we think doesn't mean the next generation is thinking the same way. For example, my youngest son, who just turned five, was told to go and shut up the chickens. He told me that he was going to need some help pinching all those beaks. Sometimes in our operations we assume that the next person understands exactly what we are talking about or we take for granted that they can read our minds.
In your operation when was the last time you had a meeting to discuss possible expansion or changes in your programs? Many of us have been in agriculture for most of our lives, and there are often times that we make all the decisions and never let the next generation have input into some of these tasks. If we want to transition the operation into new hands and help them become successful, there needs to be this communication.
It's never easy to bring up some of those specific topics, it can help to have a third party involved who rides the fence and helps get the communication started and also helps control some of the emotions. A person would think that in the year of 2012 with email, facebook, twitter, cell phones and who knows what is next to come that communication wouldn't be an issue in our operations. The problem could be that we do communicate but only on the issues that are easy to discuss.
The following suggestions could help start out the new year fresh: Set a date for a planning meeting and let everyone know in advance. At the first meeting come up with a list of areas of concern and their priority on the list. During this time let everyone add to the list. By doing this you're letting everyone communicate. Bring up topics that are both positive and areas that need improvement. We want everyone to be positive and end the meeting feeling like they have contributed.
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If you do this in the month of December, reflect on all the positive areas that the operation may have achieved throughout this year. A successful December meeting should result in a Happy New Year start in January.
From the South Dakota Center of Farm and Ranch Management, I would like to thank all our clients, ranchers and producers for a successful and enjoyable year. Merry Christmas.