Clarity and Your Succession Plan

Succession planning is not linear. There are many activities going on simultaneously. As with any activity that has an element of complexity, the more clarity that there is, the easier it will be to keep things moving forward. There are four activities that leaders should continually assess for clarity to ensure that transition activities stay on track.


It is important that you and your team are on the same page regarding the Vision for your operation. If you are not unified in what you are working to build or sustain, you may find that talking about the future is very difficult. You should be on the same page not only about what you are working toward but also have a firm belief that the goal is achievable. Regular and consistent business planning activities should go hand in hand with your succession plan. Your team should have a clear understanding of how operational performance can impact succession.


It is important to have clearly defined roles and that there is agreement regarding what each team member is accountable for. As labor becomes more challenging to secure and retain, you will find that operations who have the right people doing the right jobs find it easier to retain their top talent. Accountability has nothing to do with job titles. Leaders can be found at all levels when there is clarity regarding what needs to be done and who is empowered to do it.


Many operators make the mistake of assuming that mind reading is a talent that their team possesses. Setting and communicating clear expectations should never be overlooked. If the task should be done the same way every time, documenting the process should go hand in hand with verbalizing it. Once your expectations have been clearly articulated and documented, make sure you monitor your team and provide guidance when the task is not being done correctly. As the saying goes, “What gets measured gets done.” Procedural drift will occur without fail if a process is not monitored.


If your family is like most, feedback occurs only when something gets really messed up. It is important when developing and implementing your succession plan to set aside time to tell your team members when they are doing things right as well as where you see areas where they can improve. Catching them doing something right – and thanking them for it – builds trust and confidence. They need to know that you have faith in them, see them as capable and that you appreciate the time and effort they are putting into the operation. When positive feedback is absent, team members become uncertain, disconnected, and may even feel that their future in your operation is not secure.

Taking the time to create clarity though these four activities is an investment in the future of your operation. The more clarity you achieve through consistent communication and leadership – the faster positive results will follow.

Look for this article by Rena Striegel, President of Transition Point Business Advisors, in the November 2020 issue of Farm Journal.