How is the next generation ever supposed to step up if the current generation can’t step down or at least step aside? The short answer is they can’t. It’s one reason managerial authority on many ranches skips a generation. More calamitous, it’s a major reason why young people don’t stay in ranching and multi-generational ranches are disappearing.
University of Wyoming Extension agent and Ranching For Profit School instructor, Dallas Mount, recently led a management succession workshop in Baggs, Wyoming. Dallas is a gifted, innovative teacher, and I was flattered when he asked me to participate in the program.
Dallas did a great job of distilling successful succession into five core areas:
What criteria does Santa use to determine who’s naughty and who’s nice? There aren’t many people who are completely naughty and even the nicest people slip up now and then. It all seems pretty subjective to me. I’ve got a few ideas for Mr. Claus, a long-time ProfitTips reader, that would make these decisions easier, increase his confidence that he’d made the right call and alleviate the stress for everyone concerned. It would also be useful if one of the kids on his naughty list took legal action.
There are some things that don’t change very much … there are others that do. Social media for example. Ten years ago had anyone heard of a Social Media Coordinator? But with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and all of the other things out there, how is anyone, supposed to keep up with it all and still run a business? These are all new tricks and when you are an old dog like me you need help with that stuff. Earlier this month we got help.
A young rancher needed to increase turnover and was preparing a bid for a large lease. When he discussed his proposal with his Executive Link board he explained, “I don’t want to come off as too inexperienced. I don’t want him to think that I don’t know what I’m doing.” Someone on his board offered some great advice.
Earlier this month a lot of ranchers in TX, OK and KS experienced a nightmare. Driven by winds of 50 mph and more, they lost grass, infrastructure and livestock to intense, fast-moving wild fires. I’ve heard from several Ranching For Profit Alumni whose entire ranches burned. They spent the day after these devastating fires evaluating losses, euthanizing suffering animals, and taking steps to ensure that the animals that survived were taken care of. I’m not aware of any alumni who lost their home or who were injured. It’s hard to call that “luck,” but what else can you call it when others lost their homes and even their lives?
Most “ranch managers” aren’t managers. They don’t do the work of a manager, they don’t produce the results a manager would produce and they aren’t paid what a manager would get paid. The result isn’t just poor management. Most American ranches aren’t managed at all!
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One of the questions I often get at workshops is, “How many of the people who go to the Ranching For Profit School are actually doing it?” It’s a reasonable question, but it depends on what it is.
A rancher sent me this email:
My brother is the hardest worker I’ve ever seen, but he’s impossible to work for. Employees have quit, and those who stay avoid my brother and come to me with their issues. My kids, who are good workers and used to enjoy working in the operation, now detest working here. The employees, my children and I are scared to address it. We dodge him. He feels it, he has addressed it with me. When we try to discuss it we hit some kind of a wall and he gets very upset. How can I address this and still keep the peace?
Here is my response: