Management CharacteristicsWednesday, Jul 25, 2001
A little compulsory rest time has given your editor a little more time to ponder some of the confusing
issues that are rumbling around in the pastoral industries at the moment.
In spite of an eminent choir of commentators singing the “o’ be joyfulls” about the
rural renaissance, there seems to be little in the general economy that confirms that all is well
in either the urban or rural environment.
Wool producers are hard pressed to create a viable structure for 95% of New Zealand’s wool clip,
leaving 5% selling in the fine wool category testing the strength of their new structure.
Apple producers have ended up in a battle of loss allocation of such dimensions that if the worst scenario
for growers came to pass it will financially destroy all but the best capitalised orchardists.
Meat producers are now starting to sell into markets that are becoming over supplied as a result of
F& M and BSE induced consumer resistance. EU is heading towards a beef stock pile greater than that
created in the early nineties – a volume that took ten years to clear.
And the favourite pastoral industry – dairy – is starting to claim that the current high
product pricing levels are as a result of the kicking in of the Uruguay Round and has nothing to
do with exchange rates.
Taken out of context all the above could be seen as a dismal scenario fomented by the gods of commerce
to frustrate hard working farmers as they go about their tasks. But it is in fact not new –
it is business as usual – these are the normal components of the markets that we work in.
Accepting the above, what weapons do we have to protect ourselves from being out maneuvered by our competitors?
NZ Farmers have management skills. Skills such as these listed as the characteristics of top US farm
1. Top farmers see themselves as sellers and their buyers as customers.
2. Top farmers focus on creating value, rather than quantity. It's not all just about yield.
3. They try to push themselves up the supply chain.
4. They are open to new ideas.
5. Top farmers are strategic thinkers.
6. They objectively asses the strengths and weaknesses of people. Then, they capitalize on the strengths
7. Good farmers operate in a continuous improvement mode. They are never fully satisfied, but always
looking for ways to make incremental improvements
8. Good farm managers tend to take a systems approach and not a components approach to things.
9. They are calculated risk takers, and excellent risk managers.
10. They think through many "what if" scenarios.
11. They seek outside input and expertise.
12. Top farmers see change and challenges as opportunities, and they don't see themselves as victims
13. They see themselves more as a head coach than a boss.
14. Their approach to management is balanced.
15. They spend a lot of time monitoring and analyzing. They put money into fixing root problems, not
16. Decisions are based on reason and judgement, not emotion. They know how to separate the two.
17. They are creative and innovative. They can see something that has nothing to do with their business,
and apply it.
18. Good farm managers are good communicators.
This list of management characteristics has relevance for NZ farmers as we either prepare for or ignore
the next cycle of rural good or misfortune that could be heading our way.