Summer 2022 Report on Business Launch with the Missing Column
The Summer Report on Business hit mail last week. This issue examines the environmental stewardship. The focus in not about green energy or good energy versus bad energy but efforts that are being put forth towards environmental consciousness and decisions that businesses are making to promote global future. We featured efforts from BNI Coal, Midwest Ag Energy, Ducks Unlimited and NDDOT.
We launch this issue with GNDC Director of Communications, Amanda Remynse's quarterly column
The Missing Column to the Summer Report on Business Issue: Ode on a Hay Bale Belt
In my youth I have rolled approximately 52,788 big round hay bales. Until I got older and experienced other leadership styles, I thought my first boss was a real task master. My first boss was my father, and my first office was a John Deere 4440 tractor pulling a Vermeer baler.
My father was a patient man. I was his most reliable crew member that showed up on a daily basis. For many years, I was his ONLY crew member that showed up on a daily basis. He taught me how to drive a manual transmission and operate equipment at an early age. I have driven combines, swathers, tractors, bobcats/skidsteers, four wheelers, semi-trucks, and pay loaders. I’ve been lost, backed up traffic, and made mistakes – tons of them. When you make mistakes on a farm there is a double cost – time and money. Both are precious commodities. I’ve blown up engines, ripped out transmissions, driven a hay picker over a hidden rock smashing it unusable, blown bearings, flattened tires, smushed pick up doors… I’ll stop here, I believe the picture has been painted. The thing is my dad may have been frustrated but I never felt wrath. In fact, a few times he even laughed at my stupidity. I was never punished for these errors, I never had to pay for them out of my own pocket. I don’t think I was appreciative enough for this grace and understanding but took it as the constant. The only time I got a proper behind-chewing was when I wasn’t being safe with the equipment. It was these experiences and my father’s leadership that set the foundation of my work ethic.
There are moments that we look back in our careers that may define our work style. Mine can be personally traced back to a broken baler belt. Some background - hay is feed into a baler through a picker with teeth. Then it goes into the main chamber and is shaped into the marshmallow form by belts that constantly spin. These belts are continually being worked over and suffer normal wear and tear. The part that broke for me was the piece that kept the ends secured together and I was alone, my dad wasn’t in the same field as me. That meant I was broke down, windrows of hay staring at me, and nothing was happening. My defining moment happened with an allen wrench and a line of wire. I found these loose tools in the tractor tool box, threaded the allen wrench between the two end laces and jammed the wire line in behind the guiding allen wrench to splice the ends together. This brought the baler back to life and allowed me to continue. Totally rudimentary and crude but I’ve never felt such pride telling my dad that I figured it out myself. I fixed the problem and was able to finish off the field before the weather changed our plans.
These feelings of pride and ownership are what more leaders could seek to build their workforce’s competency and confidence. I could have waited, I could have let him fix it, I could have just sat but I wanted to demonstrate my abilities and ensure that our work could continue. Maybe that’s the question businesses can be asking themselves - How DO we build utility players? How do we create situations where failure isn’t chastised and problem solving is encouraged for further autonomy. How can we balance productivity and producing with creativity and critical thinking? Each organization is different, but the heart of the work is through employees. My dad didn’t purposely plan these situations – it was necessity and trust. Now clearly, I’ve demonstrated that I’m not the ideal employee, but I can say I seek out situations to add value. I don’t want to make huge mistakes but if I do, I don’t make them twice and, in the end, I want to succeed so the organization can as well. I think I’m aiming for those moments that I can get a win – whether they are big or small.
Mom, when you read this, you can show it to Dad. I probably didn’t show enough appreciation for this guidance in my formative years. I’m not saying I’ve maintained my equipment operation knowledge or any mechanical aptitude but the ability to figure things has served me well into adulthood.
GNDC SUMMER 2022 ISSUE OF REPORT ON BUSINESS - ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP