“Who do you want to work for you?”

“Who do you want to work for you?”

farmers talking next to cattle
Finding and hiring the right person for a position starts first with clearly identifying the role and responsibilities this person will have. Photo credit Troy Walz.

Employee and family business working relationships are often one of the greatest challenges for those working in agricultural operations. Frequently those in leadership or management positions have had little or no training related to guiding and communicating with those they work with.  This lack of education can also impact recruiting and hiring of people to fit into available positions.

Finding and hiring the right person for a position starts first with clearly identifying the role and responsibilities this person will have.  What is the job description?   What are the outcomes this person needs to accomplish?  How are those outcomes going to be quantified and measured? Dr. Bob Milligan, Professor Emeritus from Cornell University, says that a job description is crucial for clarity both in hiring and in the performance review for the individual in the position.

Job descriptions should highlight the responsibilities to be fulfilled, not just job tasks.  It is usually best to have no more than two to three major responsibilities listed, with sub-duties broken out below each one.  Expectations of this person’s role as part of the business team, who they will answer to, as well as opportunities for growth and professional development can also be highlighted in the job description.  Dr. Milligan recommends that job descriptions be limited to one page or less.  This is usually adequate to clearly communicate job expectations.

Ideally, a job description should be used beyond the hiring process.  It provides the basis for a performance review and should be updated at least annually.  Reviewing an employee’s job description with them and updating the description to reflect new roles and responsibilities brings clarity both for the employer and employee.

In addition to a job description, identifying core competencies that are needed for an employee to be successful is important during the recruiting and screening process.  What skills, behaviors, attitudes and attributes are needed for a person to be a good fit for the job and the organization?  What are measures or indicators of a person possessing these attributes or abilities?  Giving thought to and documenting these desired attributes as an employer can help when it comes time to select and evaluate candidates for a position.

If you or someone you know would benefit from developing employee recruitment and hiring skills, plan now to attend one of the Leading Farm and Ranch Employee Seminars that will be held at O’Neill, Valentine and North Platte, December 17-19.  Dr. Bob Milligan will provide training and share resources that can help agricultural employers grow in their knowledge of the recruiting and hiring process. 

To register for one of the workshops or for more information, please see the Leading Farm and Ranch Employees Seminar press release.  If you have questions about the program, please contact Aaron Berger, Nebraska Extension Educator at 308-235-3122 or aberger2@unl.edu.