Clear expectations help employees achieve their best
Three years ago, Ohio producer Glen Newcomer decided to bring his farm’s human resources to the same level of excellence as the rest of his operation. Developing job descriptions for all employees on his 4,000-acre corn and soybean farm, and employees who work for his crop insurance agency and DuPont Pioneer seed business, proved key.
Accountability is a goal on Glen Newcomer’s Ohio farm.
“We want to be as professional as we can be,” Newcomer says. “Job descriptions are part of that puzzle.”
There are two reasons job descriptions are essential for all businesses, according to Kim Seeling Smith, a business coach with Ignite Global, an international training and consulting firm. First, a well-written job description will attract the kind of talent you want to work for you and not those you don’t, she says. Second, it will help you define what you’re looking for in a role.
“I think every position can benefit from a job description,” Smith says.
What To Include. Job descriptions are important beyond hiring.
“They can provide useful criteria for reviewing an employee’s performance,” says Craig Dobbins, a farm management specialist at Purdue University. Smith agrees that while most people think of a job description as a list, the document needs to be much more comprehensive.
She advises revisiting descriptions quarterly. “Make sure they are still relevant and applicable,” she says. Job descriptions are generally considered legally binding, Dobbins adds. Avoid language that might be perceived as discriminatory.
Write aspirational job descriptions to help employees know how to earn a promotion. “Then you can have a really good conversation about what skills they need to accumulate,” Smith says.
How to Describe Farm Roles on Paper
Every job description on your operation should be composed of three parts, says Kim Seeling Smith, a business coach with Ignite Global.
Purposes. What is the purpose of an employee’s role within the organization? Employees like to know why their job is important.
Goals. The job description should include no more than five outcomes or achievements, Smith says. What is the end result of the job, and how will it be measured?
Strengths. Shift your focus away from skills and experiences desired for the position and toward the attributes of success, she says. What strengths are required for the employee to be successful in the position?