Seed World

In a New World of Business, Managers Have to Adapt

As businesses face global change, challenges and disruptions, managers need to be flexible to meet team needs.

Business is something that constantly evolves and changes — but over the last three years since the onset of the pandemic, it’s felt like businesses underwent rapid changes in a short period of time.

Think about it: the pandemic brought about remote work, which is still continuing for some businesses today. There’s a generational shift happening, with baby boomers leaving the workforce and Gen Z taking coming into the workforce. Supply chains are abnormal, there was an invasion of Ukraine… There’s a lot for businesses — and mangers, in particular — to deal with and coach their teams on.

As managers continue to deal with the rapid changing pace of business, it’s important to see how their management style affects their team: are there things that need to change? What’s beginning to be important?

Jonathan Shaver.

Increased Changes and How to Take Advantage

With all the new changes swirling in the business world, what’s really affecting managers in a day-to-day situation?

“A big change is that there’s a great desire for purpose-driven work — work that has an impact to things that are important to the employee and that are larger than the individual,” Jonathan Shaver, owner and president of Envision Partners LLC, says. “I don’t think agriculture is short of having mission and purpose, and it’s really something we need to take advantage of as an industry.”

That means managers need to find creative ways to connect the day-to-day work to a larger purpose and a larger impact, Shaver says.

While this isn’t a new concept — every business has a “big picture” to keep in mind — it’s becoming a forethought for employees when searching for jobs. According to Business of Purpose, there is a rise in people’s expressed importance to live life with a sense of purpose — rising from 80% in 2016 to 91% in 2018. In addition, 74% of LinkedIn members place a high value on finding work that delivers on a sense of purpose. Finally, at companies with clearly defined and communicated purpose and value, 63% of employees say they’re motivated, versus 31% at other companies that don’t communicate that.

That motivation really showcases how the new generations, especially younger generations, want to be managed, says Rhonda Werner, director of people & culture of Ag1 Source.

“It’s just what Jonathan said earlier — it’s really a passion for what they do,” Werner says. “It’s not just a job, right? It’s being able to really understand what’s going to motivate these folks, and it’s really different than what it was 20 years ago.”

Another major change facing our business industry and managers is market instability now — particularly with the seed sector.

Jake Ware.

“We’ve had inventory issues within the food chain, and we’ve had export preference changes due to inflation. We’ve also seen weather events that really affect our business,” says Jake Ware, business manager for HM.Clause and chair of the American Seed Trade Association’s LEAD committee. “It’s something leaders really need to be looking at and understanding to learn how this will affect their specific business.”

Though the pandemic has caused businesses to learn and shift the way they may do business, Ware says companies and managers both have had the opportunity to dive in more and ask questions about what’s working, what’s not, why are you hiring someone, what and how long that job is, etc.

That business introspection also requires introspection on the manager’s part.

“As a leader, you have to look and understand what you really need from this person and what you need from yourself,” Ware says.

Is There A Perfect Style or Culture?

When it comes down to it, there are a lot of management styles that a manager can have. In the end, though, there’s no one size fits all or “typical styles” a manager can use to solve all their problems.

Instead, Shaver says one of the most important pieces a manager can have, is flexibility.

“You can see directive, hands off, empathetic, democratic… They all exist, and some might resonate with some of our viewers today,” Shaver says. “We all have a default management style — the place that we start — and it’s key to know that style and be able to flex our style to the situation to match the people we’re leading.”

While it’s more important to understand your default, baseline management style and to be flexible when the situation allows it, it’s also important to understand how your leadership style will affect your company culture.

According to Werner, in addition to management style, a big contributor to culture is just based on who the company or manager is hiring.

“A lot of times, companies want to hire solely based on somebody’s prior experiences or successes,” she says. “That’s part of it. Sometimes there are managers who talk the talk of what the company culture is, but they don’t actually walk the walk, which can cause a new employee to come in thinking they’re getting one thing, but the management style is totally different and sometimes even goes against the company culture.”

Werner recommends keeping in mind one big statistic: 75% of workers change their job because of their manager.

Rhonda Werner.

“That style and how they embrace the company culture, and how it moves down through the employees is critical,” she says. “If it’s not what they thought they were signing up for, it can be very, very detrimental.”

When you might be concerned that your management style isn’t gelling with the culture of your team, the easiest solution is just to try and understand what’s not working, says Ware.

“I believe in communication, so to figure this out, you really need to ask them to try and understand,” Ware says. “Whether that’s in one-on-ones with your team or asking a leader within your own team.”

Or, if you’re a little concerned about asking for feedback, another solution is to ask for feedback anonymously. Be prepared, though — you’re going to receive comments that sting a little.

“That’s okay, because that’s kind of the point, right?” Ware asks. “If you’re trying to figure out what it is you’re doing wrong, it’s really critical to see how we’re actually being perceived, because we can be quite blind to it.”

Overall, Werner says understanding your company’s culture can really help to make or break your team — including how they respond to your management style.

“It’s understanding yourself as a manager and your team,” she says. “Not everybody’s going to communicate the same and not everybody’s going to learn the same way. You as a manager need to be adaptable to that team, because we’re not going to hire a bunch of clones.”

From a culture standpoint, understanding your core values as management and your core values as a business and as a team can really help.

“If you’re not hiring someone who believes in the same things you do, it’s probably going to be difficult from a management standpoint,” Werner says.