Even though the aroma of turkey soup may have vacated your home, you likely can still recall the warm feelings of having folks express what things they were thankful for in 2011. People come in all sorts of colourful characters, but as a coach I ve seen amazing things happen when one person expresses appreciation for another human being.
Sometimes it takes a thoughtful pause or a tough question of, Why is this so important to you? to figure out where the other person is searching for meaning.
Would you not like a great formula to help influence other farm team members actions and motivation to change as you try to grow your business and resolve conflict?
My mastermind friend Judi Walsh introduced me toInstant Influenceby Dr. Michael Pantalon. She s used his methods on her clients and grandsons with great success. Pantalon uses the three guiding principles of:
1.No one absolutely has to do anything: the choice is always yours. (This aligns with my tag line which is Your farm. Your family. Your choice. )
2.Everyone already has enough motivation.
3.Focusing on any tiny bit of motivation works much better than asking about resistance (new learning for me).
An attitude of gratitude is commonly seen as a very positive motivator. In farm succession, researchers have pointed to lack of appreciation as a huge stumbling block. But rather than focus on the resistance pieces, how about looking at the key motivation for change in farm family business planning. Here s my adaptation of the six steps Pantalon uses for instant influence :
1.Why is planning for the future and putting agreements into place so important for you? Why might you be willing to change your current inaction?
2.How ready are you from a scale of one to 10 (with one being not ready to all ) and 10 means totally ready?
3.Why didn t you pick a lower number? If you picked one, what would it take to turn that one into a two?
4.Imagine you ve changed your stubborn ways about not wanting to make written agreements and business plan timelines. What would the positive outcomes be?
5.Why are those outcomes important to you?
6.What s the next step, if any?
” Urgency. I just found out that farmers in Saskatchewan have until December 2012 to get their Taking Stock applications approved and processed with the consulting work done in order to get their rebates. You might be willing to change your current inaction if you knew that government support programs to help pay for your team of advisers was soon to be gone. You might also be willing to act because your wife has suggested she is thinking of visiting a lawyer on her own, and ending her commitment to you and the farm. Your body may also be sending you strong signals that it is time to change your manager role.
” Readiness with a number on it makes it easy to compare with your son or daughter s number. I ve done some assessments with intergenerational folks which have been very telling. When you measure something and give it a numbered ranking, you get a strong sense of how the other person is feeling about their ranking. Some young successors rank their readiness as 11, beyond 10, and they hope Dad s number is above five. On the 10-point scale I am at a 10 for being ready to say thanks for a great life in Canada, and the many blessings of being an independent farmer. My gratitude also stems from healthy relationships and a sense of order with plans, documents and risk management in place.
” WHY? is that powerful question again. I agree with Pantalon that why? is one of the most motivating questions. Answering the question why? helps to explain your intent. Knowing intent, helps to resolve conflict. Answering your spouse or successor as to why aren t you willing to commit to conversations? is tough if you don t have a team of trusted advisers or a sense of readiness to do the hard work of decision-making for the good of all. Having cancer, an accident or watching the neighbours self-destruct may be your underlying reasons for action, but hopefully you are more proactive with a healthy reason to act, rather than reacting to a crisis.
” Positive outcomes are a brilliant motivator. When I was asked to write a letter to myself when I was 30 lbs. overweight, feeling fat and tired, it was easy to write about how great it would feel to have more energy, look healthy and enjoy activities more.
Sam Horn has suggested changing our to do list to the I m looking forward to list. Positive outcomes that we can look forward to are highly motivating, especially if there is a strong emotional connection to the experience. Think about the long drive home to the farm to share turkey supper, and the sacrifices everyone makes to be there. Everyone is hoping for family harmony, fun and a great time of celebration. How good would it feel to hear the thank you Mom and Dad when you have extended substantial gifts with a warm hand instead of leaving things to unfold in the execution of your estate?
” Why are those positive outcomes so important to you? I have seen a lot of mucky messes in farm families that could have been avoided. I can be passionate about asking you to look for the reasons why you need to act since I have seen many families freed from hurt and unforgiveness when communication with respect has brought clarity, certainty and family unity back to the farm. Thanks for giving me my husband back, said the woman whose spouse had been overtaken with the anger of frustration until the business structure was changed. Thanks for helping us see with the eyes of the next generation Elaine, says the founding couple whose assumptions were shattered, and a new vision engaged their young adult successors.
” What is the next step? This is typically my closing question in the family meeting or coaching call. Making changes is really a series of small steps that create an extensive journey and adventure of planning for change. You might need to chat with yourself, your spouse, your accountant, your lender. After some soul-searching you might consider saying, I love you son and am proud of you for standing with us all this time. Thanks for being here. I am ready to make transition plans for all of our benefit.
Buy a copy of Michael Pantalon s bookInstant Influenceand let me know how you ve gotten your folks to do something FAST on your farm.
ElaineFroese,certifiedcoach,isacatalystfor courageousandsafeconversationswithfarm familyteamsmotivatedtoputagreements onpaper.BuyheractionguideDotheTough ThingsRightat www.elainefroese.com. Call 1-866-848-8311forcoachingorspeaking events.Emailyoursuccessstoriesto [email protected] Elaineisamemberofthe CanadianAssociationofFarmAdvisors. Seeherinactionat www.smartfarmbc.ca/succession-planning.