Many of you probably have a high or low opinion on how your neighbour manages the farm. Looking across the street is always easy. Sometimes we should actually evaluate our own abilities as a farm manager rather than poking holes in the neighbor abilities. Sometimes when you pull the sheets back you don’t like what you see. Some of the farmers reading this are the farmer versions of Jack Welch, Sam Gerstner Jr or Larry Bossidy. So what makes a great farm manager? Here are 7 characteristics that come to mind.
- You expect excellence No one is perfect but the best of the best expect the highest level of effort and execution of the operational plan from all people around them and especially themselves. This does not mean that you freak out when things go wrong but you have high expectations.
- You enjoy the numbers – Having cash is critical to any farm but some farm managers think they richer than they really are by managing based on bank account levels. A good farm manager knows actually understands that revenues always have expenses and sometimes those are not in the same month causing misleading month ends.
- Delegation is your friend – Probably the biggest curse for farmers is the feeling that you can do everything yourself. The feeling that you have unlimited time and that no one can do it better is a very scary notion. Eventually something has to give. Delegation is the key if you want your farm to succeed in a major way. The second you realize that you cannot do everything on the farm, you will feel the power that delegation provides. The great farm managers already know this and execute it daily.
- Work on what is worth working on – Maybe even worse than not delegating is the farm manager that does not prioritize their daily, weekly or monthly tasks. Nothing wastes more time than spending time on things that aren’t a priority or not even necessary. The great farm manager maps out the to do list and makes sure that their and the employees working time is maximized and not wasted.
- Always looking for the better way – The best farm managers don’t hold onto ideas and ways of doing things. There is limited ownership of ideas, it is about maximizing the excellence of the farm and being the best run farm. A great farm manager understands that whether its themselves, supplier, or hired hand, it is about the great idea, not who thought of it.
- You Love the Data – We now live in a time of prolific data and information based on the surge in precision farming tools. Some of the best managers in any industry make many calls from the gut but many times there is data to back it up if needed. There is no reason to make a decision base don the way the wind is blowing when there is data available to assist you in making the best decision. Data + Human Intelligence = Decisions with high chance of Success.
- Markets, Markets, Markets – Whether it be for risk minimization or selling your crop, a great farm manager knows how the market functions and how to potentially use it to their advantage. If you don’t know what basis is, you better step up your game or get someone on your farm team that can assist you.
Now I know that this is not an inclusive list and some things have been forgotten. I also know that I could probably take some of my own advice on a couple of these. If you think there has been some omissions don’t hesitate to add them into the comments.