Where's your Row Marker? The Imprint of a Code of
By Jolene Brown, CSP
Our fields of corn and soybeans are at the depth of green, they
are on the grow. As I drive down the road or walk our farmstead, my
eyes follow the even rows, those stretching straight for miles, or
those creating a beautiful design contouring around the hills. And
then I think…what would this look like without a row marker on our
planters…or GPS to guide the way? It is those initial "marks" that
set the tone for the whole growing season…where to plant, where to
spray, where to apply nutrients, where to drive the combine.
The "marker" sets us on the right path.
It's the same for human behavior. In a family business, we, too,
need guidance and standards for our behaviors in order to stay on
the right path. This is especially important as we work with
different generations, different personalities, and different
A Code of Conduct is one of the most important written tools in
a family business. It is a statement of core values that
define who you are, what you stand for, and what others can
consistently expect from you. It is also a benchmark for evaluation
of your performance and results.
As a family business consultant, I've learned when your values
are clear, decisions become much easier. And as John Blumberg, a
mastermind partner and author ofGood to the Core,so clearly states,
"When personal values and business values align, exponential value
is realized." I believe that right and clarified expectations based
on common ground values are some of the greatest influencers of
success and achievement.
Time and time again I've seen disagreements over behaviors
within a family business. I've seen waffling of standards become
the jealousy trigger between siblings. I've known businesses that
were brought down by the unethical behavior of a family employee.
I've seen family members never speaking to each other again because
a clash in standards was not resolved.
The much better option is defining, then consistent adherence,
to your own business's Code of Conduct. This Code needs to be
in writing, created by your Business Team, requires 100% consensus
for the final document, is formally adopted at a Business meeting,
is personally signed by all, including any new employees…and
becomes a foundation of all job descriptions and performance
When writing your own "Code of Conduct" it's helpful to:
Think in terms of values, beliefs and expectations rather
Use common language understood by employees at all
Be concise, within reason, giving brief example if
Use directives rather than vague words.
Make it easy to read.
And remember, a Code of Conduct means nothing unless there are
leaders and managers modeling the behaviors…and holding themselves
and others to account.
If you would like a sample family business Code of Conduct,
please email, Jolene@JoleneBrown.com.
Jolene Brown is a farmer, professional speaker, author and
champion for the family owned business. She's from West Branch,
Iowa, USA, and travels worldwide sharing leading-edge best
practices that have the power to increase productivity,
profitability and peace of mind. Her passion combined with her
fun-filled spirit and valuable information brings humor, hope and
helpful ideas to the people of agriculture. For more information
and to check out her speaking availability, contact her at Jolene@JoleneBrown.com, www.JoleneBrown.com
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