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The manager’s job is to create an environment in which people want to excel and then provide the tools, training and freedom to do it.
While all are good methods, I personally prefer having a qualified teacher come to the ranch or short-courses and seminars because of the opportunity to get acquainted with and interact with the speakers or instructors. In addition, I usually budgeted for a significant off-ranch learning experience (a seminar, short-course or a 2-3-day visit to another ranch) for each employee annually.
As people begin to learn and perform their job well with less supervision, it becomes time for reward. Most of our ranches don’t have many levels of management; therefore, we need to promote within a job or expand its size and responsibilities as the person demonstrates his/her competence and capabilities.
This is where “freedom to do it” comes in. When people are given opportunities to use their own ideas more, to be self-supervising and to put ideas into the management scheme, they feel rewarded. Everyone wants a chance to succeed; and when they get it, they feel rewarded.
Those visiting the Rex Ranch often made the observation that “each of your employees has their own ranch within the larger ranch.” It wasn’t quite that autonomous, because they needed to use our grazing methods, follow our genetics and marketing programs. But, they had a lot of flexibility in how they did it.
These folks also had opportunities to present and suggest new ideas; and, I must say, that many of our good ideas came from our people – perhaps as a result of their empowerment efforts.
The owner-manager-leader (one person or several) should put forth a vision and then move that to a “shared vision.” To have such a shared vision requires true buy-in and participation of all stakeholders, including employees. It doesn’t take long for people to sense if they are a robotic extension of the boss or a valuable member of a team of independent thinkers with good ideas for improvement.
Remember, leadership is best gauged by the voluntary response of those being led. Otherwise it is “pushership” or coercion.
Burke Teichert, consultant on strategic planning for ranches, is retired as vice president and general manager of Deseret. He resides in Orem, UT, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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