Get them recognition: There are a number of industry awards that your employee might be eligible for. Look for these opportunities and nominate them. Also look for community or regional business award programs. A nomination letter gives you a chance to let them know how much you value their contribution to your feed or grain business. And if they win, promote their award as much as you can. Issue press releases to the local media, put it in your company newsletter, and send out an email congratulating your employee.
Continuing education: Give your employee a chance to develop their skills through continuing education. There are a number of grain industry related webinars they can attend very inexpensively. In addition, there are thousands of business, management, sales and customer service webinars or live seminars that are available. Keep your eyes open for these and send employees whenever possible. Many states have an Agriculture Leadership development program, which is a perfect training ground for your up-and-coming employees.
Don’t promise them the moon: It is tempting to keep your superstar employee around by promising them a promotion in six months or a management job in a year, but be realistic about what you promise. If you can’t deliver, the employee will start looking elsewhere.
Invest in fertile ground: As a busy manager, it is easy to fall into the trap of just putting out fires. As such, a lot of your employee interaction defaults to the “problem children.” You get in the mode of disciplinarian and spend lots of your time with the employees who aren’t performing. “How can I make them perform better?” “How can I get them to stop this negative behavior?” are questions you ask. To use the agronomy analogy of Variable Rate Technology, where more inputs are applied to the more productive ground, try to do the same with your employee base. More time spent coaching productive employees will result in more benefits and more profits for your organization.
Now they have been promoted
Finally a spot has opened up for a promotion. You have been training and coaching and now can move your superstar into this new position. Surely your job is done? Not quite. You have a lot to do to set the foundation for a successful management career for your new manager. (These same principles of coaching a new manager can also apply if you have just hired someone who has not been with your company before.)
Micromanage for the first few months: When you first start an employee in a new management position, you should tend to micromanage (this is the only time you should do this). Tell them you will be doing this and that you will not be doing it forever. But you want to get the person trained and up to speed with the “flavor” of your management style. Check in with them often on their “to do list.” Give them lots of coaching on how to handle situations that arise. As they become more and more competent, give them more freedom.
Keep them busy: During their first few months in the new position, keep them very busy. Load up their schedule and task list. This provides you with lots of opportunity for interaction, affords you many chances for observation, and gives time and opportunity for feedback. A busy schedule also gives them purpose. You really do need them in this position to help you, so make them feel like it.
Provide a detailed job description: This should be a given, but during the initial promotion (or new hire) process, don’t forget to provide, and discuss, a detailed job description. You should do this with each position in your company, but it is probably more important with new management positions. List all the tasks you can think of and outline them in the description. Have another member or two of your current management team review (participatory management as we mentioned above) and provide feedback. Take as much time as needed to go over each item in the description with your new manager — you are building communication bridges here and telegraphing your intent and desires.
Make a big announcement: Promotions or new hires are a big deal. Make sure you make a big announcement to your company and other employees. Contact local media and put the information on your website. A good head shot from a local photographer with publication rights will only cost about $50 and is a good investment, not only for your new hires, but for all your management team. They sure look better than the snapshot of them against the break room wall. In the announcement to your employees, spend time telling them the benefits of this position and why this person is a good match for the job.