; Essential for Successful Human Resource Management: “soft skills” | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Essential for Successful Human Resource Management: “soft skills”

Trisha Wagner and Jennifer Blazek


Effective leadership of employees requires “soft skills” in addition to skills required to manage livestock or crops. This was confirmed in recent research by UW-Extension Agriculture Agents of farm human resource management (HRM) practices in Wisconsin. Farmers indicated the most challenging aspect of working with employees is communication. This includes conflict resolution, training, and motivation, and challenges related to finding and recruiting employees, and employee retention. Respondents indicated they do not implement basic human resource management practices; employee handbooks (69%), standard operating procedures (57%), employee meetings (46%), and performance reviews (58%). This presentation will review these research findings and discuss how the UW-Extension program “Becoming the Employer of Choice” aims to improve farm owner/manager soft skills through follow-up “action plans” with program facilitators.

A review of programs, materials and resources, found that technical tools are becoming more available for farms such as common farm job descriptions, handbooks and examples of standard operating procedures. Consulting firms offer HRM services marketed to farms such as legal paperwork, payroll, recruitment, and translation services.

Current research on successful human resource management focuses on the need for leadership, and the development of the emotional and social intelligence skills needed to lead people. Extension risk management education should reflect current research on HRM, including communication with diverse team members, use of behavioral-based interview questions to reduce mis-hires, the use of autonomy, relatedness, and competency (ARC) theory to understand employee motivation and retention, and improved use of employee feedback and communication for a new generation of farm employees. This education will be helpful to farm owners, managers, consultants and firms offering HRM services.