Q: There are four of us in this operation that have been department supervisors for several years. We really like our jobs, but there is very little chance for advancement since the top jobs are filled by people with much more experience, and they won’t be changing jobs any time soon. None of us wants to move to another company, but we would like to learn more about management, and our industry in general, for our own personal growth and development. The company says it is doing everything it can; so what else could we do?”

A: There are several things that you and your coworkers can do to improve your knowledge base and have some fun in the process. Here are some ideas.

  • Sign up together for supervisory skills classes at a local community college or take online courses offered by national schools or producer organizations.
  • Develop a book club where you all read the same management book and discuss it over lunch or after work.
  • Ask for permission to take a bit of company time to attend seminars, trade shows and producer meetings.
  • Get involved in local, state and national pork producer associations.
  • Ask your major input suppliers if they have training available at their facilities. Then see if your company will sponsor your time and travel to attend this training.

A good example is a company that started its own “Breakfast Club.” Several supervisors and managers get together weekly for breakfast, where they discuss a management-related book, talk about situations within their departments, and analyze production and management performance data. They took a field trip to a large dairy to glean insights into how they could be better managers, as well as enhance their company’s image in the community. They provide the company’s executives with regular reports of their activities. They also implement many of the ideas that come from their discussions and research.

Such actions require a personal commitment, as well as some of your own time and money. These skills can be used in every facet of your life — family, personal relationships, community, church, sports, volunteer organizations and more. Remember that anything you learn is yours to keep, regardless of what job or career you choose in the future. 

If you show that you are serious about your personal and professional development, I bet that your company will enthusiastically support you.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.