Honestly, what keeps you awake at night as a farm manager or owner regarding people? Do you need to make changes, but realize that people are not engaged? Or have you hired an employee you thought was wonderful and one week later he is delivering less than he should?
The answer to these questions boil down to one single question: “why do I need to invest in people?” You must do it for three basic and fundamental reasons: to gain productivity. You will double the production and profit of your farm when you find skilled people. To have in your team, at the same time, productive and resilient people, that is, who are able to learn from difficulties. And to have a high level of engagement and participation, that is, people who make things happen.
Regarding people, we are moving from ordinary management to an increasingly smarter management with a focus on knowledge. This means that you can no longer be a manager who plays checkers, who treats the whole team the same way and communicates and engages the same way. Now you must be a manager who plays chess, that is, who knows the differences between his team members and who is able to deal with each one of them individually. After all, to differentiate your business in the market you, the manager, must have in your team people who are innovators and doers.
But what is the difference between motivation and engagement?
A common mistake made by managers in Brazil is to mistake motivation for engagement and many companies resort to magicians, tree-hugging and all sorts of group activities to motivate their employees. However, this motivation lasts only for a few days. Why? Because motivation is intrinsic, it is individual and you cannot touch it.
Engagement, on the other hand, is a functional and emotional commitment that is catalyzed and stimulated by enhancing the potential and performance of your talents. Usually these are the employees you can rely on at the farm, those you know will solve problems and go beyond the tasks they are supposed to carry out.
Therefore, you need engaged people in your business and the two main elements of engagement are progression and sense of fairness. Thus, you should bear in mind that people perform and engage in different ways. Consequently, assess your talents not for what they know and say, but for what they actually do.
Therefore, if you want to improve the engagement and performance levels of your team, you must continuously tell them what your goals are and align your expectations with their expectations.
Types of engaged people
There are basically three types of people in companies: those who are engaged, those who are not engaged and those who are disengaged. Those who are engaged deliver well, are focused and have the extra energy to do things. This is usually the kind of employee you can rely on at the farm.
Those who are not engaged are the employees who are needed at the farm, who work well, but who do not do anything that is not part of their job. They are not able to perform tasks that are strategic or not part of their routine.
Those who are disengaged, in turn, are those employees who deliver below the average and usually give excuses in the process. They usually bring more problems than solutions.
How can we work with these three profiles?
1st – Assess the engagement and competence of every employee by talking to them in order to understand their level of engagement.
2nd – Get rid of ambiguities, bureaucracy and disorganization.
3rd – Help your employees improve. Work on meritocracy.
4th – Lead by example as a manager. Do your part. Be a coach to your team.
In practice, uniqueness will improve performance and engagement but, above all, it will enhance knowledge. Thus, it all depends on how you will manage your team so that they are increasingly productive and engaged.
Text based on a lecture given by Eduardo Carmello at INFO360 2016.
The subject of this post may be unknown or sound curious to those working in agriculture, since the term accelerator is not yet a common term in our day-to-day life. However, accelerators are indirectly present around us more than we think. WhatsApp, Airbnb and Uber are some of the world companies that had their success stories boosted by a business accelerator. In Brazil, even though they are newer and less prominent, accelerators are also resulting in success cases.
What are accelerators after all?
In order to explain it more easily, let us make an analogy with a practical and common example from our day-to-day life: imagine you want to lose 5 kg. The weight loss “formula” is pretty well known, is it not? Proper diet and regular exercise. But in order to lose weight faster and at the same time with quality, we know that the support from professionals like dietitians and personal trainers would greatly help expedite the process by bringing more adequate methods, plans and routines, so that you can achieve your optimal weight and reach your objective faster and at the same time in a healthier way. A business accelerator is basically the same thing. By using mentors, contact networks, privileged information, and experience with business at larger scales and access to investment, accelerators can establish shorter and more assertive ways to big growth leap.
The startup accelerator model is already a reality in Brazil in markets linked to technology, particularly in business models related to the internet and mobile technology. However, it is not a common practice in agribusiness, because it requires a large structure and has well-established business models, unlike technology projects, that may start small and are quite varied.
However, this reality is starting to change. With increasing production costs and less people interested in and able to work in the field and increasingly demanding and connected markets that define the types of products they want to consume on a daily basis, as well as their production processes (less impact, more health, more standardization, traceability, etc.), companies and producers are forced to innovate. In this innovation process there is room for actions that boost acceleration initiatives.
An example of that is the Agriness Accelerator, an innovative project created by Agriness to boost productivity in pig farms. The company is currently the market leader in technology and management for the pig industry and based on its THOUGHT+1 methodology, it created a productivity acceleration program designed to support pig producers and their staff to make production management more efficient, with less waste and greater profits.
In the case of pig production and agribusiness in general, the concept of acceleration is the same as that of startups, but the focus is no longer on sales and market expansion strategies, but rather on people, processes, information and, particularly, on the management attitude towards maximum productive efficiency. Examples such as that of pig producer Ricardo Coldebella, who participates in an acceleration program conducted by the Agriness Accelerator at the Copérdia cooperative, prove that structured support does accelerate business growth. After two years participating in the acceleration program, the pig producer had a productivity gain of 4 weaned piglets/Sow/Year and an 18% improvement in his production result.
“We are happy to be able to contribute with the industry and help improve results and the life of rural producers. We are sure that Brazilians are able to produce with better quality, but they need guidance, mentorship, follow-up and methods that show them the way”, says Everton Gubert, Agriness CEO and coordinator of the Accelerator established by the company.
Other initiatives designed to foster innovation with a focus on agribusiness are spreading throughout Brazil and will surely open up spaces for models like the one promoted by Agriness. An accelerator can certainly help agribusiness take off with a focus on eliminating waste and increasing management efficiency. Then, it is up to you to work hard, improve your production efficiency and increase your profitability.[box]
TIPS TO ACCELERATE
ANALYZE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY AND CHECK IF YOUR FARM IS MANAGING TO DELIVER TO ITS FULLEST POTENTIAL. IF IT IS NOT, YOU DEFINITELY HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO INCREASE YOUR GAINS WITHOUT HAVING TO INCREASE YOUR PRODUCTION STRUCTURE.
TRY TO HAVE A METHOD, TOOLS AND CONTINUOUS SUPPORT IN PRODUCTION AND PEOPLE MANAGEMENT PROCESSES BECAUSE THEY ARE THE FOCUS OF THE PRODUCTION OPPORTUNITY.
LOOK FOR EXPERIENCED MENTORS AND CONSULTANTS CAN REALLY LEAD YOU IN AN ACCELERATION PROCESS, WHO HAVE CLARITY ABOUT WHAT SHOULD BE ACHIEVED AT THE END OF EVERY STEP.[/box]
Had you heard the term “accelerator” before? Have you ever related an acceleration model to pig production or seen one applied to this industry?
Pig farmers know that you need more than performance data to have an accurate view of the farm to support your business decisions. You need a global and systemic view of pig production considering the installed capacity of the farm, instead of focusing on individual processes.
This why we developed the concept of maximum production potential. This concept links live production with economic aspects, directing improvement actions to achieve the goal of delivering pigs.
Calculate your potential
In order to better understand the concept of maximum production potential, let’s compare a farm to a restaurant. Let’s say we have a restaurant with 100 tables with four places each. It opens five days a week, only for lunch, and each person spends, on average, BRL 25, or BRL 100 per table. You hired a sufficient number of cooks and waiters to serve these 400 customers daily.
Labor and infrastructure costs are fixed, regardless the number of people served daily. In order to be profitable, the restaurant must serve 400 people during lunch. If only 350 people are served, the idle capacity will negatively impact the profit. If you serve 100 tables with four people for five days a week, this means that the maximum production potential is 104,000 people per year, with an expected revenue of BRL 2.6 million.
The same principle can be applied to the pig farm. Let’s consider, for instance, a farm with 520 sows. If the genetic potential is to wean 30 piglets per sow per year, the farm’s installed capacity is to produce 15,600 piglets per year. If only 15,000 piglets are delivered, this means that 600 less piglets were produced, despite the higher potential.
Focus on delivery
The vision directed by delivery capacity allows a better understanding of the global goal of the farm. If you know your annual production capacity, it is easier to determine the monthly and weekly deliveries. If these goals are not met, you need to make a more detailed assessment of the performance data to try to identify where the problem lies.
Also, when the farm’s maximum production potential is defined, all the people involved have a clear understanding of production status and what are the expected piglet deliveries per year, month, and week. You need to prepare your team to understand this concept, so everyone can work together to improve the results.
What about you? Have you already defined the maximum production potential of your farm? Share your experience with us!
Why am I not able to produce more? Why my business is not more profitable? All pig producers have asked these questions at least once. We believe the answers are in how farmers consider their operations.
Identifying problems means you need to stop looking at individual operational details, such as mating, weaning, farrowing, feeding, and vaccination, and to consider the farm as a business, analyzing the production process as a whole. The question then is: Where do I start?
Information is essential
Once you realize you farm could produce better results, you are already in the right path. Acknowledging symptoms is the first step for seeking solutions. The next step is to have good-quality information, which helps understanding what could be improved. Information is critical for diagnosis. When you see a doctor because you are feeling unwell, for instance, you expect him or her to request some tests. After all, if information is not sufficient, the probability of obtaining the correct diagnosis – and treatment – are reduced.
The same thing happens on the farm. To trace a problem, you need reliable and systematic information on production aspects. The figure below shows the key information required to obtain an accurate diagnosis of the farm.
This tree analysis provides a comprehensive view of the farm, and allows identifying the most critical point, which should be in the top of your priority list. This means that, despite the wide range of monitored indexes, it is possible – and required – to identify those that have a stronger impact on productivity and should be improved. Example: If the index “number of piglets weaned per sow per year” (WSY) is below the target, the problem may be farrowing rate or farrowing unit management.
I have identified the problems. What shall I do now?
The interpretation of the production data will allow you to identify the bottlenecks that prevent you from obtaining better results. If you have many, don’t be discouraged. You should prioritize the solutions for the problems that most affect productivity, and consequently, business profitability. During this process, do not forget to involve and train your team. When people understand the problems and the proposed solutions, they can become the agents of change.
What about you? Have you already made the diagnosis of your farm? Share your experience with us! Tell us in the comments section.