Management Skills

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.

Management Assessment

Management Skills

Management During Change

Staying Informed

  • Staying Alive by Staying Informed - Small Business Administration – Cultivate methods to stay abreast of developments in relevant particular fields and ignore useless information.



  • 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?

Company Focus