As I have mentioned in this column before, farm family business transition is one of the three most common challenges to farm and ranch businesses worldwide. Recently in an executive training focus group meeting, we discussed the characteristics of a good mentor.

Mentorship, or providing teaching guidance in navigating the business through those rough transitional periods as one generation passes the baton to the next is crucial to business success. Younger and older generations alike, benchmark your mentoring abilities to the identified characteristics of an ideal mentor.

15 Characteristics of an Ideal Mentor

  • Patience

  • Availability

  • Knowledge

  • Ability to motivate

  • Open minded

  • Not condescending

  • Approachable

  • Organized and timely

  • Encouraging

  • Talks on your level

  • Flexibility

  • Sets a good example

  • Resourceful

  • Desire to mentor

  • Enjoys business/job

Mentorship is more than a grunt or groan of non-verbal communication that expresses dissatisfaction concerning performance. It is not telling the next generation a “job well done” once in a blue moon.

Mentorship, particularly for a new employee or younger generation can take up to 30 percent of a person’s time initially. Knowing this and building this into the game plan of the older generation can make for a smoother transition.

Football Picks
Who will be the last undefeated teams in college football this season? I think Oklahoma has the best chance. Miami has too many hoops to jump through, and my Hokies will slip up eventually. We just don’t have the defense and the Big East will expose us! Time will tell, I guess.

In the Air Again…
This month is getting busy. I just made it back from Canada and this week I’ll be traveling to Iowa and Indiana. Maybe I’ll see some of you in an airport in between!

My e-mail address is:sullylab@vt.edu

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He recently completed a sabbatical working with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is now back at Virginia Tech with his academic appointment, which is teaching, extension, and applied research.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.

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