Earlier this year I began recording podcasts for Mark Ferguson, a sheep genetics and management consultant based in Christchurch, New Zealand, who works extensively across Australia and NZ.
After listening to one of my podcasts a young website user rang me to discuss an issue that he was finding difficult to resolve.
Fred had completed his university studies a couple of years back and after trying his hand at a few alternative jobs he was always drawn back to the family farm.
Fred's father died when he was a child and the farm had been run by his grandfather and uncle until the former passed away.
Uncle Bob has run the farm since and he is providing for his mother until her passing. He also experienced a divorce a few years back and has a health condition so life has been challenging.
Both grandparents had not left any provision for Fred to inherit his father's share of the farm and they had all the farm land placed in trusts.
Throughout his childhood Fred had shown interest in the farm and spent lengthy periods working for uncle Bob and was well paid for it.
Uncle Bob's management style was "it is my way or the highway" - in other words he is the boss and every employee must do it Bob's way or they can move on.
In Fred's late teens and early 20s, while working on the farm he would see the agronomist and stock agent come and go from the property and during this time Fred would be sent off on menial tasks.
Fred was desperate to learn from these enterprise specialists but rarely did this take place. Fred likes Uncle Bob but becomes very frustrated that he will not listen or take on any of new ideas.
Uncle Bob has just entered his 60s and does not have any children and Fred is the only family member in the next generation.
After discussing the matter for an hour with Fred I came to realise that he may be getting a little ahead of himself, as many university graduates do.
Fred is now managing another property where he is included in all the meetings, discussion and decision making and he enjoys the cut and thrust of business. That said his long-term goal is to manage his own farm.
My suggestion was for Fred to continue to work off farm for a couple more years to gain more higher-level management experience but in the short term seek a meeting with Uncle Bob with the broad view of being able to share each other's views of their own futures.
If Uncle Bob was to include Fred in his future plans, it was important that they shared their goals, needs and concerns with each other and flexibility in thinking was key to an agreed outcome.
The agreements or future plan should be written down and agreed timelines for reviews be established, with each to have a copy.
Every meeting has three components - process, content and outcomes.
Process in my mind is the most important, without it you are inviting trouble.
That is why a respected and independent third party is recommended to help facilitate the meeting and bring new ideas for consideration.
There are other options for Fred's future but I suggested to work this one through first and if successful the others may not be required.
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