There are plenty of things for ag business owners to lose sleep over these days, from the uncertainty of the war in Ukraine, unpredictable weather, and the cost of fertilizer to market fluctuations, a super-tight labor market, and the “Great Resignation” that’s happening everywhere. (We didn’t even mention how Covid takes a toll on business—and it sure does.)
These issues, and many more, are valid reasons for tossing and turning all night. At People Spark, we help leaders like you get the sleep you need (and deserve) with a reminder about something so obvious that it’s sometimes easy to forget: It’s exhausting—and futile—to focus on things you have zero control over. On the flip side, there are plenty of things you can influence or control, and it makes a lot of sense to put your attention there.
(You can read a lot more about this powerful topic in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Author Steven Covey writes about the “Circle of Influence” and the “Circle of Concern”, a concept he came up with nearly 35 years ago. His insights still hold true today.)
Be proactive, not reactive
We think about these two different ways of thinking as “reactive” vs. “proactive.” To put it simply, if you’re reactive, you burn the midnight oil stressing about issues that you, personally, have little-to-no direct control over. The state of the economy. The tight labor market. How much the business down the street is paying employees. Fretting doesn’t change any outcome, but that doesn’t stop you from doing it. In fact, it distracts you from spending time on the things you can control.
When you think “proactively,” on the other hand, you focus on things you can actually do something about. How you treat your employees. How you treat your customers. How you carefully plan for different scenarios and respond when situations change. This mindset is empowering because it ensures you’re playing an active role in what happens at work (and beyond) each day. Which, in turn, makes it easier for you to sleep soundly each night.
Put your focus where it counts
One of the things you can influence is how happy, engaged, and motivated your employees are. More to the point, you must. As a business owner or leader, you need to spend less (or zero) time complaining and worrying about who might quit or how you’ll fill an open role. Instead, it’s your job to proactively create a company, and a culture, that people are inspired and excited to be a part of.
(Read this powerful case study documenting how being intentional about company culture enabled Prairie State Tractor to retain, grow, and thrive, even through a merger.)
Culture really matters, so make yours great
You have control (or, at least, influence) over things like interviewing and hiring with values in mind, giving meaningful feedback that drives the behaviors you want, and developing your managers’ and supervisors’ leadership skills. These are all proven aspects of culture that help ensure your best employees will stick around.
Here’s another big bonus. When employees enjoy what they do and feel supported and appreciated at work, they’re likely to tell their friends and neighbors. If your company is known for its strong culture, it’s much easier to recruit people who align with your business goals and values.
Our clients (including participants in the Ignite to Transform for Team Leaders program) tell us that learning to put energy and attention where it counts—like proactively investing in business planning and strategizing—is an important leadership tool. And it’s not just business people who benefit from this shift in focus. We all feel, think, and behave better after a good night’s sleep. Get yours by pinpointing what you have the power to change and putting your attention where it matters most.