There comes a time when you realize that you have to train someone to do a job that you are very capable of. It’s an easy job, one that’s so easy, as a now manager of the farm you think to yourself, “Now there is a job where I can just relax. I can think about what is going on at our farm, I can sing to the radio, I can sort of hide out from my manager jobs.” While sitting in a John Deere the other day this “hiding out” feeling was exactly what I felt.
I don’t know if I’m the only farm manager who feels this way. But there are times when having employees stare at you and ask, “What are we doing today?”, or “What is on the agenda?”, or “How do I do this again?” can seem a bit overwhelming. So the thought that it would be quicker if I just did it myself, creeps into my mind. And the harsh reality I’m finding is that yes, it would be much faster to just do it myself, but it would never get done, because quite frankly I just don’t have the time.
So last week I finally trained someone to drive that very same John Deere I was trying to hide out in. It went well, but as I drove away from the field after a few hours of training, leaving a huge tractor in the hands of a 15 year old with a cell phone I had a moment where I was pretty sure I was losing my mind. Until I remembered, I was driving that same sized tractor at 14…I survived…the tractor survived… move on!
Going through this transition of becoming the manager on our farm I’m finding that it’s not always easy being the main decision maker. And although some days, especially when it’s hectic in the summer time, I wish I could just go to the morning meeting and have someone just tell me what to do that day, what’s on the agenda, and how I do that again. But then I drive away the second day from the field, leaving that same big old John Deere, with the same cell phone enabled 15 year old, and I know that finally taking the time to train someone is paying off.
I think that I’m getting a very small glimpse of what it must feel like to hand over any type of management or jobs on a farm where you have worked so hard your whole life. When I think about succession planning a lot of times I don’t really understand why people wouldn’t want to retire and pass down what they have built to the next generation. Of course there are many generational changes between myself and those who have built this farm into what it is today. But I think that this feeling I’m feeling has something to do with it as well. I can do it better myself, I can do it faster myself, because I’ve been doing it for decades! So with my 7 months under my belt of management, I’m really glad I have a patient father who realized this part of letting go long before I did. So I’m off to our morning meeting today at the farm to look at those faces and tell them, what they are doing today, what’s on the agenda and how they do it.