Young Farmers Gain Wisdom on Managing Employees

08:04AM Feb 01, 2012
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There’s a lot to learn from former Top Producer of the Year winners and finalists, specifically working with family members and employees of all ages. Yesterday three top producers participated in a panel discussion at the Tomorrow’s Top Producer event.
Michigan farmer Jake Clark says, "you have to give employees respect on a daily basis." That’s especially important for him because, as a younger producer, he often is managing employees who are his senior by several years and who have taught him how to farm.
From Indiana producer Jim Kline’s perspective, it’s important to give employees a sense of entitlement so they feel a part of the operation.
What employees really want, Kansas farmer Lon Frahm says, "is the ability to make meaningful decisions. That builds ownership and [the sense of] ownership." Panelists stressed the importance of treating employees with dignity and respect as well as giving them specific responsibilities and rewards.
Frahm takes his employees on trips, such as the most recent one to the Grand Canyon, as well as performing arts and sporting events.
Clark says his family took one of their long-term and valued employees to a NASCAR track and arranged for him to drive a car on the track. They also gave another employee, a long-time Detroit Tigers baseball fan, a signed baseball of Tiger great and Hall-of-Famer Al Kaline.
When he first started farming Clark thought shiny new equipment was important, but over the years he has come to realize that it’s the people.
See all of the news, photos, videos and more from the 2012 Tomorrow’s Top Producer event in Chicago, Ill.