Good Management Transitions Don’t Happen Organically, They Only Happen if There Is A Planned Transition

By: Amy Wirtz

Today’s Top Producer Seminar session I want to report on is about how to cultivate the next generation for the transition of management and ownership. This was taught by Danny Klinefelter, of Texas A& M University and a leader in the T.P.A.P. program.

Is college the answer? Mr. Klinefelter believes in the benefits of sending your next generation to college. College gives our youth the opportunity to learn time management skills, social skills, engages critical thinking, and gives our youth a bigger world view. He suggests the next generation study agribusiness, accounting, rural entrepreneurial degree, and engineering or chemistry degree.

Mr. Klinefelter recommends parents be willing to pay for classes outside the student’s degree area to help the next generation be well rounded. He suggests the next generation of leadership develop knowledge in negotiations, interpersonal communications, accounting and the use of accounting software, and the basics of business formation.

Based upon his vast experience in helping shape agri-business education programs, he advises that your identified successor get work experience outside of your organization. This allows your successor to learn how to work from someone other than a family member, see different management styles, experience other corporate cultures and bring new information to your farm.

Experience outside of your organization for five years and the earning of one promotion during this time helps both the managing generation and the identified successor confirm and define the successor’s commitment to the farm. The returning successor will have an established self-confidence, lessen the cycle of entitlement that can exists in family businesses, and harvesting more ideas for improvement to the existing organization.

Danny’s Ten Hints for a Successful Management Transition:

  1. An assessment of the needs of business, not just for now, but for the future.
  2. An objective assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the current CEO.
  3. An objective assessment of the strengths and weakness of the successor.
  4. Open, honest and mature communication.
  5. The creation of a management development plan that addresses experience, responsibility, training, and honest/objective evaluation and feedback.
  6. Planned experience, exposure and networking opportunities for the successor, not just outside the business, but also outside the industry.
  7. Development of a common vision for the business.
  8. An ongoing delegation of responsibility and authority, with a specific timeline.
  9. Involvement of the successor in the development of the business plan and the strategic decision-making process.
  10. Implementation of a plan for what the current CEO is going to do next.