Tips for improving as an ag manager in the new year
The new year often brings new possibilities, which makes this a good time for agricultural managers to look at who they are, how they are perceived and if they can make adjustments that will improve their business.
"I've heard the phrase, 'who people see when they look at you is not the same person you see in the mirror.' We are all bogged down by a self-image that is not the same that others see," said Kansas State University animal scientist, Chris Reinhardt. "Some see themselves as less than they are, others see themselves as more. Sometimes, it helps to try to figure out what others see. As a manager, this is the only way to get better."
Reinhardt, who is a feedlot specialist with K-State Research and Extension, described a concept called "360-degree feedback" which can aid self-improvement. This means people around you in the organization provide feedback on your development issues. That includes superiors, peers, and those who report to you.
"The only way this works is if those providing feedback believe their input is valued, will be incorporated, and that it won't be held against them in the future," Reinhardt said. "This is where humility comes in. The manager who doesn't think there is a need for improvement need not apply. But we can all get better."
First, are you defensive? This is only worthwhile if the one receiving feedback will accept the input as the truth.
Second, can you change? This depends on your willingness and what changes are needed. For example, if the predominant feedback is that you are too quick to criticize, do you defend this trait as essential to your management style or is there room for compromise?
Finally, can you take something away from this process that you can implement with those who report to you? Some may embrace the process, others may not. But if you see traits in others that could be addressed to the betterment of the employee, as well as the workplace, it is conceivable that the person may respond favorably to input from peers, in addition to that of the manager.
"If you are a better manager, you will have a better, more productive and sustainable team. Employees who feel their input is valued are more content and productive; they give more when the times require it," Reinhardt said.
In addition to working with feedlot operators on cattle issues, Reinhardt contributes "Management Minute" to K-State's Animal Science Research and Extension newsletter: www.asi.k-state.edu (click on Research and Extension).