'Culture' is a word that is increasingly being bandied about in businesses and board rooms globally.
It is at risk of being a buzz word that inspires thought but little action, as businesses struggle to define what it is and how they can implement it. Culture is hard to measure as it is largely intangible.
When the culture of a business is lacking, it is apparent. Drops in motivation, productivity and performance, as well as decreased wellbeing and high staff turnover, are all common.
This all flows through to the bottom line. Poor performance and high staff turnover results in reduced productivity and increased costs due to the high cost of employing new staff.
Getting the right culture is a real keystone towards driving greater performance, understanding and developing ability, as well as reducing the overall load on a key person. It can also be defined by you, changed regardless of season, and essentially costs nothing to do.
Getting the right culture is a real keystone towards driving greater performance.
How does this apply to a grain marketing column? As a business manager, it is up to you to decide if you foster a learning environment and a culture of development.
For next generation farmers coming in and wanting to understand the business, grain marketing sits high on the complexity list.
The level of risk associated with marketing is not just risk of washout from a changing position; it's the risk of timing of sales, cashflow, market movements and logistics.
It is easier to mess up than get right, yet this is an area of business that is commonly overlooked and thrust onto the next generation with little training. It is the experiences in marketing that create the understanding.
Having a culture that allows a safe environment to guide decision-making and create the depth of thinking the situation requires builds this ability. Good culture is an environment whereby mistakes can be made and built on, not criticised.
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Involving people in the strategy is also a culturally-affected factor with marketing.
Often we encounter people that feel overwhelmed by marketing, and decision paralysis takes hold.
Having a conversation about strategy with your wider team creates a depth of thinking. Do we need to sell more? Do we need to hold off? Do we need to washout to reduce our risk? What about cutting frosted grain for hay? These are all decisions that, with the right culture, can be done with complete agreeance and confidence.
With marketing, though, there will come a time when a decision has to be made.
The strategy has to be verbalised but the decision normally has to be implemented by one person. The window for action may be small and others could be out of phone range. There is often no ability or time to talk through a decision in a fluid market.
Despite this, we regularly see the key marketer being held responsible for decisions made if they then have a market move against them. This only damages confidence, and creates conflict and decision paralysis.
The financial implications of this are potentially large. The key decision-maker needs to be safe in a culture that has been created to support decisions made based on the information available at the time.
Culture is one of the few things in agriculture you have complete control of and, apart from some time, doesn't cost much to work on. The ramifications of ignoring it, though, can be substantial.
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