I have worked with farming families to help navigate the tricky process of integrating the next generation into the farm and in helping the older generation move on. My work on this topic started 12 years ago when I established the "Growing Business Award" with Norfolk YFC. I was also fortunate enough to undertake a Nuffield Scholarship that looked at the issue of succession planning and how it is dealt with globally. During this study, I spent significant time exploring how succession planning can be successfully delivered. My experiences have been further developed while working for Savills, providing workshops for organizations such as Waitrose, Prince's Charitable Trust, and the CLA. Over the last few years, I have also been running the Family Mediation Trust, which has allowed me to learn lessons on how families work through key issues during a separation.
By working through a structured process with the family, I will guide both generations throughout the entire process. This process will aim to help each generation identify what is important to them and their responsibilities, making the experience a positive one. This, in turn, helps them identify the big issues and manage them. My approach to managing succession is outlined below:
Direct Consultation with the Principal Farmer The succession process will only work if the principal farmer understands how succession works and the implications of starting the process. This meeting enables the principal farmer to ask questions, explore the key issues and concerns they have. If both the farmer and I feel that the family is ready to take forward a succession planning process at the end of this meeting, we move on to stage 2.
These sessions are confidential.
On occasion, this process highlights cases that are not ready to deal with succession planning. In these cases, clear support and information must be provided on why it may not be the best time to start the succession process. These sessions can be delivered face-to-face or remotely through Teams and typically last about 1.5 hours.
Direct Consultation with Key Family Members If it is agreed to move forward, an invitation will be sent to the key family and business partners to attend their own direct consultation meeting. These confidential meetings enable the next generation, partners, and others who will be directly involved in the succession process to explore their own concerns, worries, and aspirations. These meetings can be with individuals, couples, or larger groups, and the structure will be based on the family dynamics to ensure maximum engagement.
These sessions can also be delivered face-to-face or remotely through Teams and typically last about 1.5 hours.
Family Meeting The family meeting is a safe space for all the key family members to come together and develop four key plans that are integral to a successful succession process. These plans are:
These sessions will never take place around the farmhouse kitchen table but will be delivered in a safe space or, in some cases, online. The sessions generally last about 3 hours and will conclude with a summary of what actions and steps were
Transferring a farm between generations is never an easy process. Both generations often have a lot of built-up anxiety around succession planning and this is why its often left very late, this makes the process even harder to get right.
I have worked with farming families to help them to navigate the tricky process of integrating the next generation into the farm and in helping the older generation moving on.
My work on the topic started when I set up the 'Growing Business Award' with Norfolk YFC over 12 years ago. I was also fortunate enough to undertake a Nuffield Scholarship which looked at the issue of succession planning and how it is dealt with across the world. during this study I was able to spend significant time exploring how succession planning can be successfully delivered. My experiences have then been developed while working for Savills, providing workshops for organisations such as Waitrose, Princes Charitable Trust and the CLA. Over the last few years I have also been running the Family Mediation Trust , which has enabled me to learn lessons on how families work through key issues during a separation.
One of the biggest reasons that succession planning fails for many families is fear - fear of failure, lack of ability, or a fear of change - on the part of both the older and younger generations. To address this issue, I offer a mentoring service to both generations to build their skills and confidence in tackling the challenges of change. These services are provided through confidential, short, one-on-one sessions that focus on the individual's specific situation and needs.
The approach of mentoring has been used in a broad range of situations, including:
Please feel free to contact me for a free and confidential conversation about your situation so we can determine the best way I can assist you and your family.