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Set SMART Goals for your Operation

Kent Bang
Educational Opportunities: 
Home > Education & Events > December 2017 > Set SMART Goals for your Operation

As we connect with agriculture producers many of the same recurring topics come into our conversations.  In many instances we find that our conversations revolve around incredible pig performance. In addition to the dynamics faced during the ramp-up phase of a recent construction or expansion project; and most frequently, the disconnection observed in market hog prices as reflected by the gap between the cash market and the Pork Cut-Out, relative to the historical spread. As our swine lendnig team engages in these conversations, there is recognition that misery loves company when thinking about areas of adversity. However, we find that the best producers focus our time together on the events they have had the ability to impact and control.

Looking Ahead:
As referenced above, now is a great time to identify key initiatives for the upcoming year and to set supporting goals that the team can focus on in the months ahead. Key initiatives should be focused on the strategic direction of the business. Strategic direction may revolve around diversification, vertical integration, or specialization. With a strategic direction identified, key initiatives can be set to support the movement of the business in that direction. Examples of initiatives are enhanced biosecurity, improved feed efficiency, managing costs or enriching team member engagement. Initiatives are intended to span across various segments of the farm. It is within each segment that goals should be set to ensure each person and/or team has an intentional focus on working toward these goals.
Goals work best when designed in a SMART structure as reference here:
Specific – Be sure that detailed, precise results are identified within the goal. Avoid vague references to simply “getting better” or “improving”.
Measurable – Peter Drucker is quoted saying, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. Having measureable components within your goal is important and helps ensure that you are making progress.
Attainable – It is important to understand current performance levels and those of your relative peers before setting a new goal. Once you know where you are at, you can determine what an attainable level of improvement is to ensure there is realistic capacity to achieve the goal.
Relevant – There are a number of important goals, but having too many will have a diluting effect on the team’s focus. Be sure that the goal is pertinent to a key initiative that supports the strategic direction.
Time bound – Setting specific check points for when the goal will be measured, helps hold people accountable and to instill urgency.  
Setting goals is only the first step in driving performance throughout the year. How you engage your team and help them understand why the goal is important, is vital to ensuring you have a united effort. Sometimes teams can get lost in the how and why, so keep it simple and be sure to give them a clear what to do. You want to be sure you provide the team with enough freedom to drive innovation through new, creative approaches, but it is essential that you set appropriate guidelines that best position them for success.

Checking in regularly to provide ongoing coaching, further enhances your team’s probability for success. Coaching is not the same as micro-managing. Be sure your team understands your intention to best position them for success in reaching the goal. Just like a star athlete needs a coach to reach the Olympics, your team needs to trust that you’ll be there to motivate, challenge, hold them accountable and to provide support through challenging times.      
US Swine Industry is filled with wonderful people. It is truly an honor to work together with you to provide families across the country and around the world with safe, nutritious, delicious pork. 

At Compeer Financial, we recognize that each swine producer is unique. Small or large, our swine lending team works on the leading edge, helping hog producers who want to expand or join the swine industry.

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