Is your talent pipeline secure?

ACT Like A Pro, Issue 133

Today I’d like to talk about your talent pipeline. This covers your current employees, potential in current employees for development, future employees, and succession plans. Sounds heady? It is, and it isn’t.

1. Take Inventory of Current Employees

What does the bench look like right now? A good place to start is with three simple categories:

  • Age
  • Experience
  • Expertise

Age is about the number of years left to work, but it’s also relevant to consider the stage in life that a person is in at certain age ranges. For example, people with young children at home or those caring for others are often pulled in many directions with family commitments. When you look to fill positions, are some people more likely to need part-time options or a lot of time off? Do you need to consider two part-time people for one job?

Experience is important when it comes to assessing the leadership potential right now and going forward. Do your people have the necessary seasons under their belts to lead?

Expertise is all about specialty. List the special skills, gifts and talents, or unique training and education of various team members including yourself. Again, this is not so much about age as it is about skills and natural tendencies.

2. Develop Potential in Current Employees

Developing leaders takes an understanding of customized options such executive coaching, training programs, higher education, certifications, outside influences like peer groups, boards of advisors, networking, how to gain global experience, and advocacy and communications skills development.

Roles at the farm now are different and the change going forward will blow our minds. There are jobs that don’t even exist that will be integral aspects of future farm management.

While you can’t avoid essential training to operate the machinery of today or to plant the crop this season, you also need to look ahead and find ways to prepare your successors for the future.

Evaluate where your current employees excel (their strengths) and determine ways to develop those further. Do they need online classes, coaching, an additional certification, removal of duties they are weak in to refocus their strengths?

3. Talent Pipeline for Future Employees

Once you’ve looked at the current bench, consider the pipeline needed.

  • Did your analysis expose gaps in credentials or training that you should address?
  • Are there future (24-48 month) roles you will need to fill?
  • What roles today are filled by people who may be transitioning out of the business in five years or less?

It is also not easy to entice someone into farm work, especially today, when most people are far removed from production agriculture. The appeal of a labor-intensive job with long seasonal hours is further diminished when compared to a job with regular hours, a more comprehensive benefits package, and a climate-controlled work environment.

In developing countries, women are the ag labor force; have you considered maternity leave for your tractor drivers, harvesters, and milking technicians? If not, it’s time to evaluate it now.

In leadership roles, the pipeline is increasingly female as well. In fact, fifty-two percent of respondents to an Agcareers.com survey indicated that they had hired more women than the last time they were surveyed. This change is not likely the result of a mandate or even a preference to hire more females. Instead, this shift could be because more young women are qualified and available to hire than ever before. More women graduate with college degrees than men. Women also earn more agriculture degrees in majors that are both science- and business-oriented.

Think broadly about the idea of talent acquisition in terms of a brief risk assessment that considers the talent pool now and the decisions you have yet to make.

4. Succession Planning for Your Future

I find this the most lacking and the most important part of this exercise; so much so, I wrote a whole book about it last year.

I find the most infrequently used job description is for the top leader at the farm. That needs to change as you transition leadership; have you description ready and clear.

Think about the role you fill in your operation, not just the tasks you do. Deciding what tasks and responsibilities go in your job description is an executing thinking; take a strategic look at your role with the following questions.

  • What functions will be needed to run the business going forward?
  • What areas of the business are changing, either growing or decreasing?
  • Are we prepared to meet those changes with new personnel and available time with current personnel?

Don’t forget to build your bench for success!

ACT Like A Pro Out There!