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Make training and development your farm business cornerstones

Whether part of transition planning or day-to-day business, developing new skills helps keep farms profitable and team members engaged.
Given the sheer amount of information required to run a farm, determining what to learn next can be daunting. According to some business management experts, that makes prioritization and a creative approach to learning critical.  
Make a list – and chip away at it
“It’s not uncommon for people to perceive an overwhelming amount of info that needs to change hands. A senior partner might not realize how many things they know, and if they weren’t there, it would effectively hold their partners back,” says Patti Durand, agriculture transition specialist with FCC. “The opportunity is to chip away at it over time, then you don’t have to learn everything at once. Lifelong learning is a good approach generally.”
Due to the seasonal nature of many farm businesses, Durand says a good place for senior operators to begin is with a list or calendar of general tasks and their time ranges. This gives partners the chance to identify overarching knowledge gaps. Simple tools such as FCC Knowledge Gaps and Training Needs Assessment worksheets can also be used.
Tasks can then be categorized by scale – that is, what could be learned quickly (such as how to fix a specific piece of equipment) and what requires a long-term approach (such as financial management). Considering scale with overall importance or urgency helps establish priorities, and what training could have the largest impact.
“Otherwise, it’s just daunting. You might dabble in everything and not make progress,” Durand says, adding revisiting the list when even small tasks are accomplished helps maintain motivation.
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