There is an abundance of information and resources pertaining to a farm’s business vision, but there’s not so much written about a vision for management. In other words, resources to help a farm family determine what they are managing toward. I’m talking about management structure — who manages what, who does what.
An organizational chart can capture this structure.
The resource I describe below is not my original work. I came across a version of the resource when working with a Manitoba farm family. Over the years, I’ve added detail to it. I get positive comments from farm families who see and work with the resource.
The table is a narrow band of a farm’s management activities.
The management functions are usually organized as operations, marketing, human resources and finance. Each of these areas will have management sub-functions.
A management sub-function is really the management task that is associated with each specific management function. A task is not considered to be a management task if it is completed by a non-management employee (or family member). For example, under the management function of finance, harrowing may be work done by an employee, but the manager is responsible for developing the harrowing schedule and assigning it to the employee. For the purposes of this exercise, the management activity would be to supervise harrowing and create and communicate harrowing schedule.
It’s not about who does the work, but who is responsible for managing the work.
The next step in the exercise is to identify the management personnel involved in each of these management sub-functions.
The management activities resource is a step toward a defined management structure. From this resource, a farm family can identify what areas the retiring and next generation currently manage, what the management activities are, and what transitions must take place. An accompanying professional development program can be designed to help with next generation skill set development.
The management activities is not difficult to work through. Start with what your current management structure looks like and then determine what you would ideally like to see in place in the future. The chart suggests three years, but it could be one year or five years. Whatever the future timeline, that horizon should align with the business vision for the farm.
Add categories for human resources, operations and marketing. You can also add categories, such as technology and/or safety, for example.
For each main management function, fill in the information according to the following column headings, as is relevant for your farm:
The main categories where management tasks take place within each main management function.
The management tasks that are involved within each management area.
Record whether the activity is currently done on the farm.
Record who currently is responsible for making sure it gets done and gets done correctly.
Who does it
Record who actually does the work associated with the activity.
Terry Betker, PAg, is a farm management consultant based in Winnipeg. He can be reached at 204-782-8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.