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Recent Posts

Look Back to Look Ahead, An Evaluation Process


Look Back to Look Ahead

This is the time of year when we look back and assess….yields, machinery needs, soil fertility, livestock status, marketing results, profit and loss.  We are so good at evaluating business production that we often forget to evaluate the people who do all of the work!

Many on the farm dread the word “evaluation,” believing it will be nothing but an “everything I’ve done wrong” session. Instead, a really good evaluation process can leave those involved feeling energized, respected and motivated. With a clear purpose to appreciate and improve, it’s good for the individuals and for the business.

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It's Your Job...


Parents: It’s Your Job!

I often hear from the senior generation, “You know Jolene, when I die, I just want two things: I want all of our children to get along and I want everyone to be happy.” Then they give a gentle sigh and smile with complete expectation their goals will be met by the work of others. I understand they want to joyfully give to the important people in their lives. In short, they want to please others. 

But, there comes a time when the pleasing, the giving, the suggesting, the sacrificing, the silence, the compromising or perhaps the “giving in” are harmful to oneself, the “community of recipients” and the family business. It’s time to step back and look at the players, the purpose, the process and the outcome. 

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Boundaries and In-Laws

Boundaries for the In-Laws


A daughter-in-law recently shared, “I have wonderful in-laws and my husband and I also work in the family business.  We are around his family five, sometimes six, long days a week. Then we attend the same church service on Sunday morning and my mother-in-law gets upset if the whole family doesn’t go to her house for Sunday family dinner. I’m wondering when enough is enough?” 

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I'm having a hard time making them understand me

 The Blame Game: Everyone Loses! 

kristopher-roller-188180.jpgFamily Farm Business relationships can be tricky, to be sure! Here's another one of the common mistakes Farm Business owners make.  Poor communication, assumptions, and blame often set up for relationship disasters.  We hope to provide you with some tips and food for thought in how to improve relationships in your Family Farm Business. 


Assumptions: The Termites of Relationships

Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves are much different than the real life version and true facts. Our minds are powerful and our imaginations are vivid, and sometimes they can get us into relational hot water. 

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Farmers are not Mind Readers

Communication: An Area That Most Businesses Would Like to See Grow!

Communication_is_key.jpgHow’s communication within your Family Farm Business?  If this is an area of your business that you’d like to see grow, read on!    One of the common mistakes Farm Business owners make as they navigate the waters of Family Farm ownership is lack of communication.  Lack of communication often sets up a Family Farm for disaster.  It’s easy to forget about basic communication etiquette when you’re working hard.  Let's look at some communication tips that can improve relational dynamics within your Family Farm Business. 

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Don't be like the Donner Party

donner-lake-1928175_1920.jpgGood Times and Bad Times: Don’t Be Like the Donner Party

Do you remember the story of the Donner Party?  They were the Pioneer Family that partied a little too hard on their way to California and got caught in a snowstorm in the mountains where many members died. This same trap can exist in a Family Farm Businesses.  This can be another one of the common mistakes Farm Business owners make; failing to build communication and meeting skills during the good times. 

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With Family, More not Less Must Be In Writing


When working with family, more, not less, needs to be in writing!  

Perhaps you’ve heard this expression: “The shortest pencil is better than the longest memory.” That’s especially true when working in a family business. In fact, I’d add one more sentence:  “If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist!” 

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I want to work for the Family Farm but it can't afford me!

Supporting the Family:  Obligation vs. What’s in the Best Interest of the Farm Business

Kids_working.jpgLet's look at another one of the common mistakes many Farm Business owners make running their Family Farm Business.  Many Farmers make the assumption that the their Family Farm Business should support any and all family members that are interested in working together. We hope to unpack this assumption a bit for you here, and uncover some tools that will help you plan for success in your business endeavors. 

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They're not here, and I'm so busy

heavy-934552.jpgAll the Fun Stuff: Family Farm Business Relational Dynamics 

Let's take a look at another one of the common mistakes Farm Business owners fall prey to when managing their Family Farm.  It’s easy to forget about the in-laws, spouses, and other family members in your Family Farm Business when your head is down and you are working hard.  With careful intention and planning this mistake may be easily avoided.  

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I Love 'em, But Why So Much Trouble When We Work Together.

Family Farm Business: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

158H.jpgYour Daughter Claire and her Husband Tim have been married for a little less than a year. Tim is a really great guy, he treats Claire like a Queen, and you’ve never seen her happier.  Tim has just graduated UC Davis with a business degree in Agricultural Management.  You get along great with Tim and you have a position on the Family Farm Business that you feel would be the perfect fit for him.  You hire him, and he begins to manage operations on the Family Farm.  Things are going well, and six months down the road a disagreement erupts about his decision making process and how it will affect the yield in next Spring’s crop.  You try to discuss it with him, but tensions escalate into a heated argument and accusations fly from both sides.  Both parties leave upset and angry. The following week you have a family ski vacation planned in the mountains with Tim and Claire.  You’re a little nervous after the eruption last week, but you have a great time skiing together and enjoying the quality family time.  On the drive back to the valley you talk to your wife about how much you love Tim, and what a great time you had on the ski vacation.  You are left wondering what the real issue is back in the Farm Business.  You and Tim have never run into conflict before, so why now?

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