Training camp starts early in the calendar year for agricultural producers and entrepreneurs. While much of the production and operational planning for the season ahead has already taken place, the first quarter of the year is often catch-up time for strategizing about labor requirements and training.
Smaller operations, which rely on family and local help, especially benefit from a three-prong approach to training needs which includes defining the overall business operation, writing specific job descriptions, and formulating evaluation measures.
The pattern of workflow and resulting labor requirements begin with a firm definition of the overall business operation and what needs to be accomplished for a successful season. Experience guides the direction of an operation’s ebb and flow and shows a pattern of when labor requirements may need adjustments. If this is your first season, anticipating labor requirements may be more challenging, but usually follows the height of production, harvesting, packaging and sales. Following your business plan will also be helpful in determining when you may need extra or seasonal workers to fill in. Training both seasonal and permanent workers is essential for helping employees reach their maximum potential and to work efficiently.
Training in the corporate world reached its peak in the 1990’s when the thought was centered more about teaching the culture and teamwork of a business than actually outlining specific job duties. Today, most prospective employees will have done their homework before an interview and have an idea about the mission and goals of a business before ever coming through the front door. Culture and teamwork are still essential parts of an overall system, but rarely take the place of actually pinpointing responsibilities and expectations.
While creating job descriptions demands time and planning, they are essential for helping workers understand exactly what is required of them and what skills they will need to have or learn. Job descriptions need to be as explicit as possible. They should also explain not only what is necessary to perform the task successfully, but help develop an environment of continued learning and confidence. Some parts of jobs are taught on-site while organizational information may be in the form of printed materials or with online resources. Employees will appreciate having an outline of how training will take place, by what method, and when. It helps them set a future mental schedule and formulate questions related to their job.
How will you evaluate if you have developed the training guidelines that produce the best results? The best way is to have goals in mind at various phases of the operation. Goals that are developed for both the overall operation and the individual worker capture different, but parallel, aspects of your operation. If a specific rate of production or definite goal is assigned to a job, the employee filling that position must understand and be ready to respond to that expectation. Training helps a manager evaluate if a worker is ready for the specifics of the job, or if that person may need additional assistance.
Determining training needs at the start of the year or the start of a business prepares both managers and employees to work efficiently and as a team throughout the entire season. Training camp represents a time of evaluation and preparation before the season begins. It requires time and attention to detail, but provides the base for how a business will operate for success and the best return on investment.
The above information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional business or legal counseling.