While channel surfing recently, I stopped to watch what is one of many memorable scenes from The Godfather, where a young Michael Corleone insists that his restaurant-revenge plot isn’t a personal vendetta — it’s a business decision.
Ethics aside, the dialogue hammers home the message that emotion can influence judgment, and separating the two isn’t always easy. An even temperament and measured approach to leadership is what leads to respect and loyalty.
These are top-down qualities that resonate with employees in most any business, and it’s increasingly true within precision farming dealerships (void of any organized crime affiliation, of course).
But in all seriousness, most precision managers are in high-pressure positions, navigating seasonal chaos, sometimes with skeleton staffs prone to turnover.
Talking with a dealer in the aftermath of this spring, he told me he had one specialist quit and another threaten to quit after an especially chaotic planting season. This is all too common of a conversation I’ve had in recent years and in fact, each of the last 3 years I’ve chatted with precision managers who have lost employees either during or soon after spring.
“On his way out, one guy who had only been with us for 6 months told me, it’s nothing personal, but I just don’t think I belong in this business,” a precision manager at a multi-store dealership told me last June. Checking back in with the manager after this spring, he had yet to fill the position and acknowledged the added stress of a triage-like approach to troubleshooting precision problems during planting season.
Interestingly, during the course of our most recent conversation, the manager acknowledged that he could have likely done a better job of preparing or just talking with the specialist early on, and perhaps avoided him quitting at the peak of planting, if not altogether.
“On his way out, one guy who had only been with us for 6 months told me, it’s nothing personal, but I just don’t think I belong in this business…”
“I wonder if I had been a little more engaged with him — asked about how things were going, listened a bit more — if that would have made a difference?” the manager said.
Hindsight is 20/20, but as someone who has taken on more professional supervision and training responsibilities, taking the time to have those casual conversations has become a priority. Whether it’s taking an interest in weekend plans, sharing a water-cooler conversation about a local sporting event or swapping parenting advice, I’m a believer that those moments are impactful.
Drawing on the principles of a great read, Get Serious About Editorial Management, by Howard Rauch, I’ve tried to create a flexible framework for helping employees develop, challenging them when necessary, recognizing their successes and helping them learn from their mistakes.
For any of you who attended our third annual Precision Farming Dealer Summit in Louisville in January, you heard precision recruiter T.J. Stauffer passionately plead with dealers to make precision specialist jobs meaningful — putting purpose ahead of profit.
No easy task, but in an increasingly competitive market for precision talent, adding a personal touch to professional development is wise. Executed properly, the combination might just be a long-term offer your precision employees can’t refuse.