Mentorship, sports analogies, and making time for training — an ag leadership Q&A LIVE with Kara Oosterhuis


We have a pretty special LIVE for you as our own Kara Oosterhuis joins Shaun Haney for a discussion on farm management, as it compares to managing a sports team. They talk about specialization versus cross-training, mentorship, and taking the time to train your people. Not everyone is going to be good at operating the grain cart, but they’ll be good at something else! No job is too small on a farm.

Don’t miss the RealAg LIVE! segment most Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday afternoons at 1 pm Mountain/3 pm Eastern on your favourite social media platform — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Twitch!


  • Kara’s usually the interviewer, strange to be the interviewee
  • Sports! Kara recently wrote a post comparing farm management to aspects of managing a sports team. Read her post here
  • Say you went away for a basketball playoff, and there are several rounds of the tournament to get through to the finals: do you keep people in the same place (specialize) or do you rotate people around to give them a break (cross-train)
  • RealAg has conducted some really interesting interviews with people from the sports world, we’ll link them below
  • How do farmers set themselves up for success? Everyone wants to be a part of harvest — driving the grain cart is a really important job, but not everyone is suited well to do it; delivering meals and being the gopher is also an important role
  • Is Kara a diva, as the combine driver? Nah
  • Kelvin Heppner interviews hockey hall-of-famer with a legendary moustache, Lanny McDonald
  • On a sports team, the focus is on how people gel, but it’s not always the case, managing high stress moments takes a strong leader
  • Better to have a star player? Or improve your “lower end players”
  • Skills can be taught/learned, but if there’s a person with the “star mentality”, it won’t work so well in farming
  • Shaun puts Kara on the spot to pick a favourite sports team leader, they might be a good player, but are they a good leader?
  • Quiet leadership may be better than boisterous leadership
  • Kelvin has a good book recommendation: “The Captain Class: The Hidden Force Behind the World’s Greatest Teams” by Sam Walker
  • Compensation? Tricky to work out how you compensate your farm employees. Based on skill? Based on seniority? How well-rounded that employee is?
  • Karl Subban — motivational speaker, educator, and father of five, including pro hockey player P.K. Subban — on potential and how to unlock it
  • Are there enough mentorship opportunities for field-level work?
  • Recognizing potential is important when you’re managing any type of company, becoming good at something on the farm doesn’t happen overnight, taking the time to train someone and for that person to put in the effort
  • Seasonal or temporary foreign worker training is even more tricky
  • Constructive criticism, Kara nails it on the head there, some people don’t know how to give or receive it
  • Taking time before harvest to train people on the chosen piece of equipment is a great idea
  • Turn-around of employees makes training someone a bit frustrating when that employee might leave
  • Shouting from the couch at home at a “crappy coach” isn’t necessarily fair, it’s not that easy to be a coach, just as we know it’s not that easy to manage a farm effectively

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RealAg LIVE! (view all)Season 1 (2020) Episode 59

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