|dc.description.abstract||A mail survey designed to obtain the views of New Zealand primary producers on the important management competencies was sent to a randomly selected sample of 2300 managers in mid-February 2001. The sample was stratified according to region, farm type and area. The response rate was 41.1%. Most production units are ‘family farms’ and 92% employ, including the managers, four or less people. The five most important managerial attributes were: a) keeping up-to-date with the current state of the property, b) an ability to identify key factors, c) making requirements clearly understood (communication), d) assessing job priorities, e) quickly sorting out new situations.
This priority list is very similar to that proposed by a sample from the members of the New
Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management (NZIPIM). Essentially, the important attributes involve observation, introspection (key factors, job priorities) and communication.
It should also be noted that other attributes were reasonably highly ranked. Respondents did, therefore, believe a wide range of skills were important. The ranking list was relatively stable when various sub-divisions were created using age,
education, gender, managerial style, self-assessed managerial ability, profit objective
variations, computer ownership and farm type. This same conclusion applied to all competencies listed below. For the entrepreneurial skills the following list gives the five highest scored competencies: a) understanding deadlines and acting on time, b) an ability to obtain information, c) being able to negotiate the best deal, d) understanding risk and reducing its impact, e) an intuition that gives early warning signs. While not ranked as highly, a factor analysis also showed that learning new skills, anticipation, and a belief that a manager can control many factors are all important components of a kit bag of skills.
The most important personal attributes with scores of 6 or more on a 1 to 7 scale, were:
a) early observation of important factors, b) an ability to learn from experience, c) developing a good moral character, d) keeping a cool head,
e) maintaining a good relationship with bankers and accountants, f) having the confidence to make quick decisions and act, g) obtaining the co-operation of employees and contractors.
A three factor correlated grouping of all personal attributes included most of this listed group in factor one. The respondents were also asked to provide information on their managerial style as this could impact on the best training packages, and whether in fact managerial skill can be improved for some styles. A factor analysis of the style components gave the following factors as the main components of style:
a) concern for correctness, b) conscientious planning, c) thoughtful creativity, d) enthusiastic communitarian, e) consultative logician, f) benign management.
All managers can be grouped according to their rating with respect to each of these factors.
A cluster analysis with reasonable numbers in each group gave four relatively distinct
clusters. Producers’ objectives may also impact on their interest in managerial training. A factor
analysis of a range of scored potential goals or aims structured views into five main objectives:
a) making a comfortable living, b) improving the condition of the property, c) ensuring employees enjoy their jobs, d) minimizing pollution, e) maintaining good working conditions. As it turned out a comparison of people with and without a strong sustainable profit motive
did not impact on competency groupings or ranking.
It was also found that an increasing number of managers use computers with some 55%
ownership and that computer-based managerial training modules were the second choice after
locally based tutored training programmes. Given the costs involved, computer-based
systems are the most practical. Of all the respondents 71% said they would make use of
training programmes to a greater or lesser extent. Those requesting training tended to be
computer owners, female, younger and had a lower score on the self-rated managerial skill
Finally, a factor analysis of the most highly ranked competencies from all areas clearly
indicated there were three summary factors which express the respondents’ views of the
important components of good management. These factors embody: a) good skills in selecting
and managing people, b) planning and the successful implementation of the plans and in
controlling the implementation through skills such as early observation, c) deciding and acting quickly, d) learning from experience. There are, however, many facets to each of the
factors indicating improving managerial skill is probably not a simple and quick operation.
On the contrary, it will involve dedication, practice and perseverance.||en