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Regardless of whether you are managing a small project or a large company, building the skills to manage a value-added project or business is an important goal. Improving management skills is a never-ending process. Most managers feel that they are successful, since they ended up in the position, yet may have little or no training or experience. Managers who believe that they can rule with an iron fist or conversely let things take their own path, craft blueprints for failure.
One of the first steps in improving your management skills is to assess your Managerial Attitude. Please pay particular attention to the Summary of Business Attitudes table in this document. It will give you a good idea where your weaknesses may lie. Being able to identify and assess how you respond to change is a great way to identify where some additional research can positively improve your skillset.
Constant evolution of both production and forecasting technology, and ever-changing market trends impact every farm business or agriculture-related project. In the past, agricultural businesses focused on commodities (corn, soybeans, hogs and cattle) mostly used in the food industry. Production of those units continually focused on similarity and guaranteed repeatability. Once produced, the product was passed on to some other business who specialized in selling it. The best way was often the easiest and simplest path, not necessarily the one that was the most efficient or yielded the greatest return.
Today, in diversified value-added operations we determine what we can sell and production of that product for the market. To do this, the focus is on the marketable product attribute and competitive price point. To do this, the management of information is every bit as important as management of assets.
In today’s changing world, production for both food and fuel and external factors across the world stage influence the value chain and impact markets. This greatly increases demand and price volatility.
In the past, there was constant adversarial negotiation on price with input suppliers and commodity buyers. Today strategic cooperation throughout the value chain from input supplier to end user is the norm. Partnerships with input suppliers and buyers create robust and sustainable supply chains.
Additionally, we now produce agricultural products having very specific high-value attributes. High-levels of quality control, trait-specific testing and contracting is the norm. Farms are “vertically integrated,” for example large-scale aquaculture or poultry operations with integrated fertilizer- or feed-production operations. Operations that may sell outside the primary operation to surrounding producers. Today, many farms receive income from solar arrays and wind turbines, or a myriad of different non-agricultural on-farm businesses.
We all can benefit from improving our management skills. There are various topics presented in the side-bar menu that you may find quite valuable. Additionally, Practice Good Management provides some tips on improving your management skills on the job.
For more information on this topic, see the links listed below of articles posted on related Web sites.
- Checking your Farm Business Management Skills – Purdue University Extension – Rate your skill and ability. A nice little self-assessment.
- MindTools Management Self-Assessment – Excellent self-assessment with discussion of each area that explains its importance and contributes additional guidance.
- Manager as a Leader Self-Assessment – MIT Human Resources pdf resource.
- Managing your Farm and Ranch Operation – Texas A & M University Extension – A discussion of the characteristics of managers.
- Farm and Ranch Business Management Functions – Texas A & M University Extension – Discusses a variety of management functions.
- Think You Manage Creativity? Here's Why You're Wrong – HBS Working Knowledge -- The rational rules of management don't apply when it comes to fostering creative types.
- Taking Feedback to Heart (and Action) – HBS Working Knowledge -- Encouraging feedback is one thing—putting it to good use is quite another. Step number one is to free yourself from knee-jerk reaction to criticism.
- Managers Skills: List of Skills, Qualities, Strengths and Competencies. – A good guide list from Job-Interview-Site.com.
- Women Leaders and Organizational Change – HBS Working Knowledge -- Merely expanding the number of women in leadership roles does not automatically induce organizational change.
- Secrets of the Successful Businesswoman – HBS Working Knowledge -- What are the secrets of successful women in business?
Management During Change
- What it Takes to Lead Through Turmoil – HBS Working Knowledge -- What are the characteristics of companies that successfully transition in times of dramatic change?
- Five Missteps to Avoid When Times are Turbulent – HBS Working Knowledge – Uncertainty in the environment can cloud strategic judgment. But there is more clarity on what companies should no do.
- Change Management – It Starts at the Top - Small Business Administration – It is important that you possess strong change management skills if you want your business to be a success.
- 10 Principals of Change Management –From Strategy+Business.
- 5 Tips for Effectively Managing Change –From Inc.BrandView, advice for small-business owners.
- Staying Alive by Staying Informed - Small Business Administration – Cultivate methods to stay abreast of developments in relevant particular fields and ignore useless information.
- Manager or Mentor? Why You Must Be Both – HBS Working Knowledge – Why managers need to do more than just mentor.
- Mentoring Best Practices ww.albany.edu/academics/mentoring.best.practices.toc.shtml – From University of Albany, Mentoring Best Practices book.
- Top 10 Mentoring Program Best – From Cronus.
- The Trap of Overwhelming Demands – HBS Working Knowledge -- A work hazard that managers often confront.
- Delegating – Kansas State University Extension -- Think about your reasons for not delegating some of your tasks at work or in the context of a volunteer role. If you are like most of us, you have some standard reasons.
- Do You Know When to Delegate? – HBS Working Knowledge – Afraid to delegate too much authority? Afraid not to delegate?
- The New CEO's Wrong Message – HBS Working Knowledge – Any new CEO who tries to wield power unilaterally will pay for it.
- Leadership and Visioning http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/visions.html – From Big Dog and Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition.
- Vision Statement https://www.strategicmanagementinsight.com/tools/vision-statement.html – Why it is important to have a clear difference between the vision and the mission.
- A Fast Start on Your New Job – HBS Working Knowledge – Your first ninety days in a new position are fraught with peril—and loaded with opportunity.
- Should You be a Global Manager? – HBS Working Knowledge – Why work abroad?
- Waking Up a Sleeping Company – HBS Working Knowledge – What do you do when you’re the new CEO and your employees tell you, "But that’s the way we’ve always done it"?
- The Plight of Middle Managers – The demise of the corporate pecking order is a myth. Middle managers are the ones who bear the brunt when an organization pretends that everyone is equal.
- Leadership Vision https://www.thebalance.com/leadership-vision-1918616 –From The Balance a human resources resource.
- The New Global Business Manager – HBS Working Knowledge – What are the critical skills global managers need today compared to ten years ago?
- Sometimes Success Begins at Failure – HBS Working Knowledge – Projects that appear to be duds may have unintended upsides – Viagra started life and failed as a drug for hypertension. Here are tips for turning negative test results into gold.