Managing a Happier Harvest


Managing a Happier Harvest

by | Oct 18, 2016 | Uncategorized

happier harvest

People just can’t be expected to work 24/7 (all the time). It’s no wonder he can’t keep a hired man!

I use two hats with index card labels. One hat is the BOSS, and one is MANAGER.

We have to make an intentional choice about our approach with our employees. Harvest is the crucible of communication strengths and weaknesses. Here’s my encouragement for managing a happier harvest this year:


A BOSS says “It’s my way or the highway. I don’t have time to mess around with your ideas.”

A MANAGER says “ Tell me more about… what height you think we should cut at and why. This is our plan for which crops we’ll harvest first. Keep me posted with your radio or cell phone.”

Work Ethic

A BOSS says “We work all the time cause the most important thing is money; I’ll just pay you more. There’s no time for fun or family; there’s too much work to do.”

A MANAGER says “We work smart as a team. When it rains will have a rest, and my shift workers are thrilled they only need to show up here five days a week! Let’s all enjoy a special supper together to celebrate the end of harvest.”

Power, Control, and Decisions

A BOSS says “I own this combine so listen to me. I’ll make the final decision and tell you what I decide.”

A MANAGER says “Some decisions are like leaves on a tree. You have the skills to make a lot of decisions without my input. Make a decision and act on it. For the bigger decisions, talk to me before you take action.” (See Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott, the Decision Tree p.118.)

[Tweet “#Farmers, make harvest less #stressful. Here’s how to manage a happier #harvest.”]

Training and Learning

A BOSS says “Man! He has been watching me run this place for five years; he should just know what to do! He should figure out how to set the grain monitor and the sieves on his own!”

A MANAGER says “ I am glad we took lots of time getting the combines ready. Everyone understands how to use the new monitors, and they feel okay about asking for help when things don’t work right. Our goal is to teach, learn and let go so that everyone gains more skills. We try to minimize mistakes like forgetting to put the gas cap back on after fueling the combine. We watch out for each other.”

Helpful Systems

The BOSS says “We just don’t have time to keep track of each truck’s weight off the field. Take that paperwork to town and let them figure it out! I don’t want to spend time keeping track of work hours or wading through that manual!”

The MANAGER says “ I thought these systems that we put in place would help us measure what we need to change. It just takes a few extra minutes to weigh the trucks, and document the harvest conditions. I always felt that if you can’t measure it, you can’t change it!”


The BOSS says “I don’t have time to stop and eat a hot meal. Sandwiches for eight weeks helps me eat on the run. I’m not as young as I used to be, but I can still keep myself running hard during harvest. I expect you to work just like me. Your paycheck should be thanks enough.”

The MANAGER says “Let me trade you off while you have a decent supper and a short break. I would rather have the combines running smoothly with no errors than deal with the costly downtime when operator fatigue sets in. You are doing a great job, and I really appreciate your good harvest habits. You are careful to check that you are not throwing grain out the back, or missing strips.”

I love harvest. Each year brings new challenges, but keep in mind that the people on your farm are your most important asset. Think about the ways you can intentionally manage a happier harvest this year. All the best to you as you keep those combines humming. I hope you’re humming, too!

Follow Elaine on Social for More Helpful Farm Family Advice!


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