Management of People and Business in Agriculture

It’s not uncommon to find people owning an agriculture business with decades of farm experience but little knowledge of running a business or managing people. Though your business may survive without these skills, a thriving business usually requires some instinctual know-how or education on how to excel. 

People can be complex, self-motivation can be challenging, and work-life balance can be lacking. Here are the questions we get asked the most regarding farm management and human resources.

How can I Improve my Work/Life Balance?

The first step is to be very clear about your goals and values. Ask yourself what you value most and if you spend enough time on what counts. Short work tasks can take much longer when you juggle personal life during work time. Another good tip is to avoid multitasking between work and life so that you can have clear breaks designed just for your personal life.

How Can I Increase Control in my Life and Business?

For most people, gaining control means being in control of your time. The only way to successfully manage your time is to have clear goals and a robust plan. Remember the saying, ‘where focus goes, energy flows’. Try to allocate both your physical and mental strength to what truly matters.

Father and son walking in a paddock towards hills

How do I Confidently Make Decisions and Changes?

Confidence comes from experience, skills and access to accurate, meaningful information. Once you know you have the required skills to complete a task or make a decision; confidence comes naturally. Consider establishing a mentor through RCS to fast-track your skill development and have a sounding board for confident decision-making.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many living in rural farm settings maintain ‘other jobs’ to keep things afloat. If you dream of allocating yourself to your farm full-time, get clear on that vision. You can then work towards building your assets and experience through things like accumulating livestock on agistment or share-farming. Take small opportunities to get into the land business whenever possible.

The switch from reactive to proactive farm management is a great ambition that will propel your confidence forward and increase your control over your business. Reactive management usually stems from poor time management and stress. Set aside time to plan your days and weeks thoroughly, and make decisions as early as possible. Leaving them to the last minute will increase the likelihood of reactive management. Have a clear focus, and you will attract great opportunities with plenty of time to act on them.

Start small with goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Write them down and ensure they align to your values. You can learn how to set goals like this in our programs and courses.

The first step is to be clear about the goals, vision and obstacles of both the business and you as a manager. When you invite your team into the realities of the business with transparency, you begin the process of good communication and will likely receive honest dialogue back. Understand that we all have different communication styles and, where necessary, work on adapting yours to suit how others in your team operate.

Clarify what is important and urgent according to your goals and deal with those tasks first. Then you can move on to what is important yet not urgent. These are generally the strategic tasks that will have the biggest impact on moving the business forward.

Understand the skill set of you and your team, and have very clear roles and responsibilities defined. This helps everyone to know who should be doing each job and who can chip in if there is too much to handle promptly.

Having a mentor or coach is an invaluable way to launch your life and business forward. RCS offers this assistance through, RCS Advisory and Coaching Services and ExecutiveLink®. Many ExecutiveLink® Boards have maintained their support for over 15 years, continuing to reap benefits as the years go on.

Start by understanding why people work, a topic we cover in GrazingforProfit®. Remember the all-important rule of treating your theme as humans, keeping their needs and feelings front of mind. Consider giving your staff reasons to feel motivated by the overall success and profitability of the business.

Establish a clear understanding of your own motivations and the goals and values of your family members. This includes being aware of their needs and feelings within the business. Before leaping in, ensure you have the skills and support required to run the business. There’s a huge stretch between being able to muster and maintain/use machinery and operating an entire business. When you feel confident and ready, you are welcome to reach out to RCS for further assistance, such as our Succession and Continuity Planning offered through our Advisory Services.

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Terry McCosker Founder of RSC Australia and the popular Grazing For Profit School. Terry is picture working with course participants of soil health and farm management principles.

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