Christopher Padfield  -  Post Formal Education - nurturing and growing talent?

I live on work on a 4th generation family farm on the Gloucestershire / Worcestershire border.  It is a mixed farm consisting of a Beef fattening joint venture and growing combinable crops.  We have been direct drilling all crops including maize for the last decade.  The farm is entered into an HLS scheme which is central to our focus on creating wildlife habitat around the enterprise. We also run some stubble to stubble contracting.

After working abroad in Ghana, Guinea Bissau and France, I worked for a local agricultural college mainly assessing NVQ qualifications.  I also achieved qualifications in Internal and External Verification and a PGCE (adult education).  I then set up a small training company where we offer training services, mainly LANTRA and City and Guilds qualifications, aimed at the land-based skills sector.

When not working, I love riding motorbikes and drinking whisky.  Not a great combination though a recent biking trip to Islay managed to get the best of both worlds.

I would like to thank all those supporting my Nuffield Scholarship, not least the Central Region Farmers Trust for their sponsorship, and my wife and parents for their support and backing.


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Simple, Sensible Management

Robert Kent - How much of the farm mission statement and values have we actually incorporated into our job roles? July 7th Winnipeg

Posted by Christopher Padfield on August 2, 2015

Appears in Business, Crops, Dairy, Horticulture, Livestock, Organic, Pigs, Poultry

Robert Kent  -  Simple, Sensible Management  July 7th Winnipeg

Dr Robert Kent is a specialist in the structure and management of small and medium-sized organisations, President of The Mansis Development Corporation , and former Director of the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors.  We met over lunch in Winnipeg on a beautiful day, thankful that the smoke from the huge forest fires in Western Canada had cleared from the sky.  Robert believes in keeping management simple and to question new management fads to actually see what they bring to the table. He counsels three essential requirements for organisational success. This organisation can be a farm, club or large business.

 Robert Kent

 Firstly does the organisation ensure that everyone knows what to do, why they are doing it and how to do it.  It is the core responsibility of management. 

Secondly does the organisation ensure that everyone receives support to make them successful in their respective jobs.  A manager needs to make sure equipment, material and skills are provided but also endeavour to strengthen employees expectation of success, self-confidence and self esteem.  Non-acceptable behaviour must be corrected.

Thirdly the organisation ensures that everyone follows through and is accountable for meeting the performance expectations and obligations.

 I quote here from an article written by Robert Kent called 'The Farm Manager'.  'A case can be made that for the vast majority of farmers, skills and processes for managing farm employees is a non-issue.  With only one or two long-term farm hands and some family help, the work gets done pretty much the way it should.  You know what needs to be done and you ensure its done right.  But what you have built for yourself is a job and not a business.  The farm has successfully flown by the seat of our pants, not theirs.  If you want your farm to be a business then you have to start to make it less dependent on you and begin to turn it into a farm system that you can manage.  Your estate will inherit a successful farm business system that retains its value even without you!'

A common research finding is that if you put the supervisor and an employee together there is seldom total agreement on exactly what the employee's job role is within the organisation.  Robert emphasised the need to define someone's role - more than a job description - namely the expectations, values, relationships and activities which are associated with a position. 

 A farmer plays many roles including general manager, owner, spouse, parent and neighbour.  Key components of the role include expectations- expectations that employees, suppliers, bank manager has of you (e.g. direction and decisiveness) and the expectations you have of employees (e.g. respect, a full day's work).  Being aware of these expectations clarifies your role. 

Secondly, Values - what should you place high value on? The answer impacts your decisions and behaviour (e.g. priority on maintaining  morale? Productivity? Profitability?)

Thirdly Relationships -  between peers, suppliers and subordinates.  Relationships will be different with all three.  The change is sometimes difficult for a newly promoted person to judge e.g.  gauging social distance with colleagues. 

Lastly Activities - what you do in the job.

Points to ponder:

  • Defining job roles and expectations within a family farm, working with parents and spouse will be slightly scary.
  • How much of the farm mission statement and values have we actually incorporated into our job roles?



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