Look Back to Look Ahead
This is the time of year when we look back and assess….yields, machinery needs, soil fertility, livestock status, marketing results, profit and loss. We are so good at evaluating business production that we often forget to evaluate the people who do all of the work!
Many on the farm dread the word “evaluation,” believing it will be nothing but an “everything I’ve done wrong” session. Instead, a really good evaluation process can leave those involved feeling energized, respected and motivated. With a clear purpose to appreciate and improve, it’s good for the individuals and for the business.
I’ve found that simple is best, beginning with a one sheet questionnaire.
- What are the primary strengths you contribute to this business?
- In what areas could you improve your performance?
- How can I and others help you do your job better?
- What is the plan to improve your skills and abilities?
- What are the key goals you want to accomplish in the coming year?
Then implement the process.
- Inform all employees and manager of the what, why, and how evaluations will be done, and set up a date to complete them.
- The evaluator(s) and the employee answer the first three questions independently prior to the meeting.
- Conduct the evaluation conversation, first having the employee share his/her self-evaluation, and then follow with the evaluator(s) adding or confirming the employee’s points.
- Once this is done, address the final two questions concerning self-improvement and goals.
- Summarize the evaluation in written form and provide the employee with a copy.
Of course a prerequisite to any evaluation is clarifying responsibilities and standards for the jobs; in other words a job description. So many young farmers have said with frustration, “Jolene, I can’t do anything right, but I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do!” Following a simple template leads all on a much more productive pathway.
And oh yes, don’t forget to evaluate the leadership of the business. What is good for one is good for all.
Thanks for taking time to read this. Here is a little about the writer and the speaker for our event!
Jolene Brown is a farmer, professional speaker, author and champion for the family owned business. She's from West Branch, Iowa, USA, and travels worldwide sharing leading-edge best practices that have the power to increase productivity, profitability and peace of mind. Her passion combined with her fun-filled spirit and valuable information brings humor, hope and helpful ideas to the people of agriculture. Jolene’s books, “Holy Crap! I Married a Farmer!” Joy-filled Lessons Connecting Our Sisters in Agriculture and Sometimes You Need More Than a 2x4! How-to-tips to successfully grow a family business are available online at www.JoleneBrown.com. For more information and to check out her speaking availability, contact her at Jolene@JoleneBrown.com.
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