Plan Forward: Who Is On Your Bench?

Farm leaders should assess their current employee bench to to be ready for future industry shifts. ( Top Producer )

Think about the skills and manpower you need on your farm today versus five years ago. Your team has likely evolved to meet today’s challenges and opportunities.

To be ready for future industry shifts, you may need to bring additional people into your business with additional skills, says Sarah Beth Aubrey, CEO of Aubrey Coaching and Training and Top Producer columnist.

Farm leaders should assess their current employee bench. “A good place to start is with three simple categories: age, experience and expertise,” she says.


Consider the number of years your team has left to work, Aubrey suggests. Also think through the stage in life a person is in at certain age ranges. For example, people with young children at home or those caring for others are often pulled in many directions with family commitments. When you look to fill positions, are some people more likely to need part time options or a lot of time off? Do you need to consider two part-time people for one job?


This is the most important category for assessing the leadership potential right now and going forward, Aubrey says. Do your people have the necessary seasons under their belts to lead?


Be very specific about your teams’ specialties, Aubrey notes. List the special skills, gifts and talents, or unique training and education of various team members including yourself. “Again, this is not so much about age as it is about skills and natural tendencies,” she says.

Once you’ve looked at the current bench, consider the pipeline needed. Did this analysis expose gaps in credentials or training that you should address? 

“I encourage business owners to think broadly about the idea of talent acquisition in terms of a brief risk assessment that considers the talent pool now and the decisions you have yet to make,” Aubrey says. “Don’t forget to build your bench for success!”

Sarah Beth Aubrey has a new book coming out, Who’s Running Your Farm (Next)? In July. Learn more about her work at