Why You Need the Next Generation

By Lance Woodbury on September 16, 2015

The average age of the US farmer is 58, and that means lots of farms are facing succession: the transfer of management from one generation to the next. While the succession process is usually not easy, keeping in mind the following three benefits a younger generation brings to the table.

Enthusiasm: Do you recall your feelings as you finished high school or college? You were eager to get started, open to tackling big challenges, willing to work long hours and excited about making a positive impact. Such youthful enthusiasm infuses an organization with energy, propelling high performance, quick responses, a willingness to take risks and the initiative to meet the demands of an uncertain and unpredictable business environment.

Education: We are clearly at the dawn of a new day as it relates to agricultural technology on the farm. From seeds in the bag to sensors in the soil, from equipment in the field to imagery from the air, new ways to improve, understand, evaluate and make decisions for your business abound. While it takes the senior generation time, energy and attention to learn new technologies, the younger crowd – whatever their level of formal education – seems to be right at home in the digital age, easily and eagerly adapting to new tools. This youthful knowledge of all things digital can help your farm run more efficiently.

Evaluation: If you’ve been in business by yourself or with your siblings for very many years, you are accustomed to certain expectations about how the business should be managed. Your communication patterns, decision-making techniques, compensation and human resource tendencies – your way of doing things – is well established. Bringing new, younger generation perspectives into the business raises the (sometimes uncomfortable) question: Why do we do it this way? The opportunity to explore new stakeholders’ expectations for the business offers an opportunity to re-evaluate your culture and make improvements for the future.

The next generation has a lot to learn. But they also have a lot to contribute. Make sure the succession process is moving forward in your organization to capture the benefits of a generational transition.