Leading People on the Farm

Leading People on the Farm

What does a new leader or manager on the farm need to know?

This week will be my last installment on the topics we’ll focus on at the Water Street EDGE farm business seminars that are happening across the Midwest this winter. The seminars will focus on helping attendees build skills and knowledge that they can use to develop their operation’s competitive edge.

One of the aspects we’ll dig into is in the area of leading and managing family on the farm, and non-family employees. I think this part of leading a farm operation is one that many farm leaders often don’t have much experience or training in – before they need to actually do it for the first time.

What does a new leader or manager on the farm need to know?

Develop the right skills
On the farm, a new manager often just jumps into directing other people’s tasks, as needed. There probably isn’t a formal training program for new managers on the farm. And as farms are growing, the need to lead and manage more people and their activities has become a skill that leaders on the farm want to develop.

If you lead or manage any people on the farm – whether family or non-family – or if you ‘lead’ any relationships with other stakeholders – like landlords, lenders, supplies or vendors, the skills related to leading people can help you as you seek to develop win-win relationships for your farm operation.

What to learn next
Start by assessing your current skills – by asking yourself what you think those you are leading would say about your leadership and management skills. This could range from responses like, “My leader sets clear direction for our operation and shows me how I can contribute and help reach the farm’s goals” to “My leader is there to tell me what to do and what I did wrong. That’s about it.”

Once you’ve completed your self-assessment, consider what you’d like to learn more about in the area of leading and managing people. Maybe it has to do with performance management or how to coach employees. Maybe it’s around recruiting and hiring. Seek out people and resources that can help you learn the skills or get the information you need to become excellent at this in your operation.

Speaker Richard Hadden will bring his experience and expertise in helping organizations in a variety of industries lead and manage people – to agriculture at the Water Street EDGE seminars this winter.

He’ll share key leadership skills to develop, how to coach and give feedback to your employees, and how to make your farm a great place to work. Think about what will help you take your leadership skills to the next level – and plan to take action on that this winter.
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