May 13, 2021

Frye: Free up more time this spring for priorities

As times get busier on the farm, with more moving parts, shortened timeframes and more things to do, it can be easy to wish there were more hours in the day. The farm’s leader, especially, can find that there’s an unlimited number of tasks to do.

Delegating can be tougher for some farm leaders than others, and it often doesn’t come easily. But since the farm leader’s time is more valuable when he or she is spending it on CEO-level work within the operation, being able to delegate other tasks is key.

Three Steps

1. First, adjust your mindset about delegation. Many farm leaders might be hesitant to delegate very often or to delegate certain tasks to others in the operation. Here’s the true benefit of delegation: You only have a certain number of hours per day and you want the hours you’re spending working on your operation to be as valuable as possible. The more you can delegate to others, the better you can ensure you’re spending the majority of your time on strategic priorities that are directly aligned with your farm’s goals and vision for the future. The idea of “letting go” of some things might be daunting, but realizing how much time you can gain can help.

2. Next, figure out what you can delegate. Start by writing down everything that you’re currently doing during any given week, as well as what you do during busy seasons. It might take a while to determine how much time you’re spending on different aspects. Next, go through your completed list and rank the activities into different categories. For example, you might assign a 1 to any of your CEO-level tasks — where you’re the only person who can be doing it in the operation — a 2 to high-level responsibilities that could potentially be done by others, and so on, with lower-impact tasks that could be done by others at the end of the list.

3. Finally, do the delegating. The highest priority tasks to delegate are the ones that don’t have to be done by you and are currently taking the greatest amount of time in your schedule. Determine who in the operation is ready to take on a greater level of responsibility and what types of tasks they would most excel in. These are the people you can start delegating to. Consider whom you may want as your successor leader in the future. That’s probably the person you can delegate the highest-level tasks to.

Consider Processes

As farm operations grow larger, more complex or simply have more people and more moving parts, one idea that many farmers have found helpful is to put processes in place.

Processes help because it can otherwise be tough to know where to start when you’re dealing with major decisions. They can save time and resources, especially for the leader when he or she doesn’t have to spend time wondering what to do next.

Places To Start

Here are two ideas of decision-making areas and aspects of the farm that might benefit from creating a step-by-step process and trying it out within your operation.

• Major purchases. You might define a certain dollar amount that initiates when this process needs to be used. It might include purchases like land, certain equipment, bins and buildings. Using a process to made decisions about major capital purchases can be extremely helpful. It takes out some of the guesswork and can outline ahead of time who should be involved in these purchasing decisions.

• Marketing plans and decisions. A process can greatly help with marketing decision-making in your operation. Especially when there are several decision-makers or people who give input about marketing decisions in the operation, having an outlined way that you go about making decisions can be a game-changer. You can create different roles for the people who are involved in marketing decisions, and the timing of when and how they should be consulted or informed when decisions need to be made.

One person you may want to include in your marketing decision-making process is a market adviser for your farm. You can get in touch with our market advisers and get a free trial of our market information service at www.waterstreetconsulting.com.

Darren Frye

Darren Frye is president and CEO of Water Street Solutions.