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Personnel Management for Successful Outcomes

Posted Nov. 1, 2008

The Agricultural Division's research and resource management effort has grown considerably during the last few years. We have been asked on a number of occasions what has led to this growth and the program's early success. The single greatest resource that we have is our staff. The individuals who carry out the daily operations and make things happen are simply the lifeline of any organization. I hope you already know that inspired and motivated employees make your organization successful. We all realize that agriculture is a dynamic industry and that we are facing more challenges today than at any time in the past. I want to share some of our personnel management philosophies with the hope that you might use some of these ideas to increase the productivity and success of your operation during these challenging times.

Set clear mission-focused expectations
The only way that an employee can hope to be successful is to definitively know the expectations of their position. Clearly and concisely expressing these expectations falls squarely on the shoulders of supervisors and managers. Periodic prioritization and reinforcement of these expectations will establish a continual line of communication and ensure that effort is being focused where it is most needed. Through establishing these expectations, every individual should clearly see how their work contributes to the mission of the organization.

Provide what is needed to accomplish expectations
Many times, employees are asked to accomplish tasks without having the right tools for success. These "tools" can come in many forms such as instruction, guidance, equipment or support. A sound approach is to put yourself in their place and ask, "What must I have to successfully accomplish this task or project?" Nothing is more frustrating than having a project or task assigned to you, but not having what is needed to see it through to successful completion. Oftentimes, if given the opportunity, individuals will come up with increased productivity options and cost saving alternatives that supervisors and managers have never considered. Aggressively foster this type of creative thinking and ingenuity.

Address issues or problems quickly
Issues or problems will not cure themselves. Quickly and effectively addressing issues must be a primary expectation for owners, supervisors and managers. As issues dwell, productivity decreases, doubt increases and more issues arise. Promptly addressing issues develops a higher level of confidence and trust in the "system," confirms priorities and allows for reinforcement of expectations.

Let them do their job
Once the expectations have been set and employees have what they need to do their job, let them do it. Provide guidance if needed, but let the employees make decisions and take responsibility for their decisions. This allows for ownership, and the highest levels of accomplishment and success occur when there is ownership in an effort. Many of us have been in situations where we have been "micromanaged." I would wager that very few of us would attest to the success of that particular management philosophy.

In the end, we have had some success in our research and resource management program due to an outstanding, motivated staff, strong support from our administration and Board of Trustees, and a focused approach to contribute to our mission. My hope is that, whether you supervise 100 employees or no employees, some of our philosophy can positively impact your operation or organization during these trying times.

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