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How do you approach change in your operation?

John Fedele/Getty Images Plus farmer-142022555.jpg
These three tips can help farm owners lead others through change.

At times, it can feel like so much is changing at once. That could be factors from outside of our farm operation changing rapidly – or factors inside our operation – or most likely, both at the same time.

It’s also true that most people don’t really like change all that much! At the least, most will find they feel some sort of uncertainty, discomfort, or even anxiety around change.

Level change

The level of those feelings can vary greatly and depend partly on the size and degree of implication of the change. For example, making a change to something in your operation that simply doesn’t impact very much probably won’t cause a whole lot of difficulty for you and others in the operation.

But think about a major change. It could be something like switching a major vendor or supplier – to something as big as transitioning ownership and leadership of the operation to the next generation. These changes have an impact and implications that are far-reaching, from multiple people up to everyone in the operation.

Three tips

When there’s a major change happening on the farm, it’s helpful for leaders to be very intentional about a couple things. This can help reduce the uncertainty or anxiety that people feel about the change or changes.

  1. Communication. When it comes to a major change, clear communication is the number one factor for leaders to be intentional about. Leaders can work to provide information to others they’re leading on the farm to help them understand: Why the change? How does the change help us move forward toward achieving our vision and mission? What’s at stake here? How can each person on the farm help, in their particular role?
  2. Navigate strategically. You will want to lay out a plan that details the steps and goals for the change. Break down the biggest goals into smaller goals that can then be assigned to the individuals who will be responsible for achieving them. As the farm leader, you’re the one ultimately responsible for ensuring that everyone is getting their part done, in the right time, so you will want to lay this plan out clearly – maybe even in some way that everyone can visually see every day.
  3. Clear timelines. Another thing that can help reduce uncertainty and anxiety around change is to set and communicate clear timelines for the biggest goals or objectives. This is especially helpful when the change involves multiple moving pieces, people and targets. Having targets tied to date objectives can help others envision the movement and progress toward the change. It can provide a road map of how the operation is going to get from “here to there”.

Market changes

The markets sure do seem to move quickly these days, don’t they? Yet grain marketing is one of the top business drivers impacting the level of success that the farm operation can experience.

Farmers have found that working with our market advisors has helped ease their minds. The advisors help farmer clients with planning and execution around marketing decisions and help keep them up to speed on the current rapidly-changing grain market situation – and how it impacts their operation.

Get a free week-long trial of our marketing information service (MarketView Basic). Your free trial includes regular audio and video updates, technical analysis, recommendations and more. Learn more about our market advisor programs and offerings at www.waterstreetconsulting.com.

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