When twin brothers Lynn and Glenn Adamson decided to combine their Wray, CO, farming and cattle feeding operations, they discovered how difficult it is to seamlessly blend family members and employees into a new and unfamiliar structure.

Certainly, all the elements for conflict were in place. The two veterans were used to controlling their fate and had the experience to back it up. At the same time, however, Lynn's son Scott and Glenn's son Mike were ready to make their mark in the business. And the employees, as a group, were saddled with changes they could not possibly anticipate.

"It was a very difficult transition," Scott says. "Our employees were stressed because they didn't really know who the boss was. One of us would say 'do this,' and one of us would say 'do that.' They couldn't please everyone."

For the four Adamsons it was no different. Each had an agenda, yet they each had a family full of new partners.

"Mike and I felt like we had to prove we could handle the responsibility," Scott says, "but it wasn't easy for our fathers to let us. It was a maturing process. My cousin and I had to learn when to rely on the resource of experience, and when to push for a different solution."

The answers - for family members and their employees - evolved through honest communication and a full restructuring of the business.

First, the Adamsons scheduled regular meetings to enhance communication. This simple step put a stop to what Scott says is the most common reaction to conflict: If you see conflict approaching, avoid it. Next, they began regular sessions of long-term planning. That got everyone on the same page for the future, not just that day.

Finally, to eliminate duplication and competition as managers, they reorganized the entire operation from management on down. Scott took over the feedlot. Mike began managing the farming, composting and trucking. And Lynn and Glenn - who wanted more flexibility with their time - became supervisors outdoors.

The changes also included the employees. "In When twin brothers Lynn and Glenn Adamson decided to combine their Wray, CO, farming and cattle feeding operations, they discovered how difficult it is to seamlessly blend family members and employees into a new and unfamiliar structure.

Certainly, all the elements for conflict were in place. The two veterans were used to controlling their fate and had the experience to back it up. At the same time, however, Lynn's son Scott and Glenn's son Mike were ready to make their mark in the business. And the employees, as a group, were saddled with changes they could not possibly anticipate.

"It was a very difficult transition," Scott says. "Our employees were stressed because they didn't really know who the boss was. One of us would say 'do this,' and one of us would say 'do that.' They couldn't please everyone."

For the four Adamsons it was no different. Each had an agenda, yet they each had a family full of new partners.

"Mike and I felt like we had to prove we could handle the responsibility," Scott says, "but it wasn't easy for our fathers to let us. It was a maturing process. My cousin and I had to learn when to rely on the resource of experience, and when to push for a different solution."

The answers - for family members and their employees - evolved through honest communication and a full restructuring of the business.

First, the Adamsons scheduled regular meetings to enhance communication. This simple step put a stop to what Scott says is the most common reaction to conflict: If you see conflict approaching, avoid it. Next, they began regular sessions of long-term planning. That got everyone on the same page for the future, not just that day.

Finally, to eliminate duplication and competition as managers, they reorganized the entire operation from management on down. Scott took over the feedlot. Mike began managing the farming, composting and trucking. And Lynn and Glenn - who wanted more flexibility with their time - became supervisors outdoors.

The changes also included the employees. "In the feedlot I now have an employee who is in charge of animal health and processing," Scott says, "so I don't supervise that anymore. Same with the feedmill - one employee is in charge of that. I don't say 'do this' anymore, I just ask how things are going. They tell me what may or may not work and I've learned to value that experience and knowledge."

After a two-year shakeout period, Scott can look back and list the elements that led to a successful transition.

"The most important elements were communication and respect," he says. "You have to be able to communicate your desires clearly, and you have to be able to respect other opinions.

"The restructuring was another important move. Before, if I wanted to make a change I had to convince three other people. Now each of us operates fairly independently," Scott says. "That builds a sense of responsibility - we have freedom as long as we produce results.

"Another factor has to deal with failure. You have to be willing to fail because it's how you learn. And for sure in this business fear of failure is a death sentence. The ability to fail, learn and move on builds character.

"All of us are fortunate to be here because we support each other as a family. We just had to learn how to work together as a business and as a family," he says.

For Further Reference

* www.keirsey.com

* www.Kepner-Tregoe.com

* www. kcoe.com

* www.Agricareersinc.com

* Introduction To Type, I.B. Myers

* Please Understand Me, David Keirsey

* Please Understand Me II, David Keirsey

* The Emotions of Normal People, William Marston

* Heads You Win! How the Best Companies Think, Quinn Spitzer and Ron Evans

* Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury

* How to Make Meetings Work, Michael Doyle and David Straus

* The Mediation Process, Christopher W. Moore

For centuries humans have tried to understand the concept of "personality" and how it affects an individual's attitude and actions.

In the modern era, "The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator," divides the human personality into four dimensions: Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I); Sensing (S) or Intuition (N); Thinking (T) or Feeling (F); and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P). Through testing, people are determined to be one of 16 different "types." For example, an ISTJ type would combine Introversion, Sensing, Thinking and Judging to express behavior, values and attitudes.

In an effort to make the Myers-Briggs understandable, clinical psychologist David Keirsey developed the Keirsey Temperament Sorter and published a million-seller book, "Please Understand Me."

The Keirsey Temperament Sorter employs a 70-question test that helps define your personality type. The test and analysis are available free on-line (www.keirsey.com) and can help you understand yourself and your subordinates.

The questions are simple - all you do is choose between two answers. For example:

Are you more interested in

* Production?

* Research?

Are you more comfortable

* After a decision?

* Before a decision?

Do you prefer to work with

* Practical information?

* Abstract ideas?

Are you more comfortable

* Setting a schedule?

* Putting things off?

Facts

* Speak for themselves?

* Usually require interpretation?

After completing the questions you are placed in one of four types: Guardian, Artisan, Idealist or Rational. The four main "types" are each divided into four sub-categories.

While the test will provide a valuable indicator describing how and why a person responds to their environment, it is by no means gospel. David Keirsey says, "The Keirsey Temperament Sorter, like all personality tests, is only a preliminary and rough indicator of personality. Please do not accept any personality test results without checking them out by watching people in action.

"People-watching will enable you to detect the difference between what people say they do habitually and what they actually do," he says.