Corporate culture is vital for farms

While presenting a writing workshop recently, it kept occurring to me that many of my points about journalism, news releases, creative branding, clarity, truth and authenticity related directly to corporate culture.

Allow me a short example and cautionary tale.

XL Foods during its E. coli crisis didn’t talk much to journalists or issue news releases, had no creative branding and avoided clarity, truth and authenticity. Its culture was messed up.

It no longer exists.

Corporate culture comes from the top, and that is the case whether you own a store, factory, slaughter facility or farm.

It got me thinking that pre-seeding is a perfect time to look around and see how your culture is chugging along. Are people engaged, happy, worried, cranky?

At WP managing editor Michael Raine’s farm, managing the culture starts with a vision that boils down to this: safety for you, productivity for the farm and value for customers.

The most important thing to Mike? “Everyone goes home at night.”

One of the nicest things about Mike is that his priorities are solidly in place.

Once you have the vision basics in place (safety, productivity, value), you can expand your checklist:

  • Do I have good leadership skills?
  • Am I strong, decisive, and clear?
  • Does my staff know what I expect?
  • Am I caring, even-handed and supportive?
  • Do people follow me, and if not, how can I improve?
  • Do I empower my staff, or ignore or smother them?
  • Do I run my business with integrity? Integrity includes taking care of finances, environmental responsibility and awareness of how a business affects its community.
  • Do I present a positive perspective?

Larry Katzen, who wrote And You Thought Accountants Were Boring, says positivity is one of four crucial cultural values, along with integrity, being a leader and making health and well-being a priority.

If executives or managers have negative attitudes, especially in times of crisis, employees will too, he says.

“You and your employees are not just doing jobs, you’re on a mission to improve people’s lives with the product or service you provide,” he writes.

“The team that embarks on a mission with no hope of achieving that mission will not achieve it.”

Well put. Developing a positive culture turns mission impossible into mission accomplished.

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