Managing a farm business means that information is gathered and used to make decisions to improve the operation.

Agricultural business managers do that with yield changes, health problems, cost changes and more. However, in the very important area of labor management, we often neglect to gather information, and as a result, the business suffers.

This is the case when we don’t understand what factors were involved in employees’ decisions to leave.

Operating a farm successfully usually means that we achieve goals through quality employees. Hiring and keeping good employees, and helping them become better, is critical to that success.

When productive employees leave, we often miss the opportunity to gather information from them that will help improve labor management and possibly, farm profitability.

Extension suggests exit interviews as a strategy to collect information with which managers could improve the performance of all present and future employees. However, exit interviews are rarely used among agricultural producers.

Will employees provide honest feedback to their employer when they decide to leave? They may not, which is why businesses typically utilize a third-party interviewer such as a personnel director or employment service. The interview should be about gathering objective information, not defending the way things were done.

There are several areas where managers could gain good information through exit interviews, starting with questions about the employee’s understanding of he farm mission, goals and how they contributed to them. What did they believe were their roles and responsibilities? The perception of roles and responsibilities gets to the issue of communication and consistency in management.

Sometimes managers assume employees know the goals and how their performance relates to those. But assuming that doesn’t make it so.