; The Supervisor Dilemma and How Agriculture Must Invest to Survive | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name The Supervisor Dilemma and How Agriculture Must Invest to Survive

Natalie Gupton


The regulatory climate and litigious environment that exists in the area of employment law has been the catalyst for the amplified demand for human resources training in theagricultural industry. Growers are recognizing employees with supervisory roles can be a business liability if not properly trained in human resource fundamentals and invaluable professional skills. However, we continue to struggle with developing quality supervisors. We empower these men and women to run our farms but spend little time equipping them with the managerial skills to be successful.

In conducting qualitative assessments of nearly 250 AgSafe education program participants over the past three years, we found that less than 10% had directly participated in or knew of a training program offered by their company to provide them with more knowledge of those previously identified core managerial issues. Many of these supervisors explained that once promoted, they were given keys to a pick-up truck, a company cell phone and told to keep ensuring the best possible production outcome for the company. Our anecdotal evidence, while not vast in scope, did validate the many one-off conversations we’d been having over the years. It led us to the conclusion that agriculture desperately needs to take the time and invest in the development of its supervisors in a variety of skills critical to the overall success of the business: team building, planning, time management, conflict resolution, communication and general leadership.

These findings lead AgSafe to undertake developing a rigorous supervisor development training program that addresses both the professional skill deficiency but also the language, literacy and cultural challenges inherent in the agricultural industry’s workforce. After completing the first complete year of the program, our qualitative results validate our original premise that these men and women have no knowledge of how to effectively manage but demonstrated how eager and receptive supervisors are to learning. This presentation will share our experience thus far and create an opportunity for discussion around how to create a multiple effect across the industry.

Presentation Materials