A couple of columns ago, I shared an anecdote about how a farm equipment dealership’s owner recently dealt with a tricky precision employment situation. Dealers would prefer to add and retain qualified specialists rather than lose them.

This week, I had the opportunity to gain insight into some proactive practices dealers can employ to reduce the chances of a messy employee breakup, or if one does occur, how to best navigate it.

Moderating the winter meeting of the Independent Precision Ag Alliance, members shared some of their experience-based tips for employee retention.

  • Non-compete agreements can be a double-edged sword, but non-disclosure agreements are more essential to protect business knowledge.
  • If an employee leaves on good terms, he or she likely left for a reason. This offers and opportunity to for the owner or supervisor to evaluate their own management practices.
  • Have a succession plan in place and meet regularly to discuss the chain of command and prepare for expected or unexpected transition. Group members met as often as weekly to every 6 months.
  • Consider the “millennial mentality” that the job they are hired for isn’t likely the one they plan on doing their entire career. (One member noted that non-competes can be seen as a “scare-tactic.”
  • Many dealers conduct exit interviews, but consider “stay interviews” for precision employees to measure job satisfaction, revisit expectations and discuss growth potential.

It was interesting to get perspective from a range of dealers both in size and business scope. But the group acknowledged that sometimes conflict is inevitable — the key is to be prepared and not surprised by a resolution.