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Before the hustle of spring planting kicks in, now is the perfect time to think about the big picture for your operation. One mindset to think about is how you can create a culture of accountability. What does a culture of accountability mean? It’s where everyone has a sense of responsibility for the success of the business.

But first, how does accountability fit in with agriculture? After all, this is a business model where weather and markets are beyond your control. Successful farmers know it’s important to acknowledge that reality, but they’re not defined by it. Being a success-minded entrepreneur means being forward thinking, and being prepared to leap for opportunity and pull back for the lean times.

Here are some of the steps you might take to set long-term goals, and how to get buy-in from everyone on the team.

Revisit your business plan

This is a document where you state your mission, what you value and your vision for the future. It may not play out exactly as you have it outlined in the business plan. Revision is inevitable. But there’s something powerful about setting down specific goals in black and white. It helps to remind yourself of where you’re heading and recognize the opportunities when they come along.

Define everyone’s role

Chances are, you’re working with a small headcount of 10 people or less, yet you may feel like everything rests on your shoulders. Shift your mindset a bit and think deeply about how others contribute to the success of your operation. What are they good at, and what interests them? You can actually help them build upon that, and create a win-win situation.

Cue others into the bigger vision

Make sure everyone who’s a part of your farming operation is familiar with the overarching goals. If that means transitioning into new practices over the next 10 years, expanding acreages, forming a co-op — whatever it means, everyone needs to know where you’re going, so they can help you get there.

Brainstorm solutions as a team

Once everyone is up to speed, invite them to a meeting of the minds. You can move toward your bigger goal by getting everyone to identify smaller obstacles and problems and identify solutions. Be clear: Everyone needs to bring a solution to the table. At the same time, give team members the freedom and flexibility to identify ways they can contribute. It’s all about buy-in and vision. You have it for your operation as a whole, and you’re offering team members an opportunity to claim their piece. If it's something that interests them, buy-in and completion are more likely.

Cultivate growth across the organization

Cultivation and growth are the very essence of the agriculture business. It’s not the same operation it was 10, 20 or 50 years ago. Sometimes, we lose track of the fact that it’s also true of the people on our teams. Part of this accountability mindset is taking an interest in the growth of every member. By showing that you see their potential and want to help them to move closer to it, they’ll be more invested in helping your operation succeed.

Set up an accountability system

Finally, it’s time for everyone to launch their plans, and give updates on their progress. By the way, you’re also responsible for setting your own goals and sharing progress with the team.

  • This accountability system can be as formal or informal as you wish. It can be a verbal check-in, a chart, a weekly email exchange — whatever works for your setup.
  • During these check-ins, two things need to happen. Everyone gives updates on their progress followed by goal setting for the next check-in.
  • Build the accountability system around specific goals they need to meet along with deadlines — so you have a means to be held accountable for moving things forward.

Bottom line, having a culture of accountability comes down to pulling together as a team and working toward something greater than the daily to-do list. In agriculture, it’s difficult to find time to work on the big-picture items. But if you use this system to involve everyone, this system of working toward the next thing will be something that’s baked in to your operation, instead of a dream or afterthought.

At Minnwest Bank, our ag lenders are members of your community, and we're committed to helping your farm thrive. Schedule an appointment today.

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