Guest Blogger: Amy Crippen, Agriculture Future of America


AFA asks questions. We genuinely value curiosity and learning. Our current question is this:
Let me explain. Almost a year ago AFA launched the Leader Fellowship™ experience which partners a young person and a coach. Part of the relationship is geared toward direct mentoring and part of the relationship is geared toward direct coaching. These are very different skills, and as we have developed, we have had to think through models that serve both needs.
Mentoring tends to be directionally-based: “Do this.” It is position-led and can look a lot like good supervision. It is performance oriented, and the mentor tends to be viewed as a role model. It sounds like “Try these things to solve your problem.”

Published on May 18th, 2017

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hired a debbie downerWhomp whomp whomp. Do you ever just feel like you hear that in your head when you approach the desk of a particular employee? A Debbie Downer can come in many different forms: the complainer, the constantly depressed, the sluggish and unmotivated, or the unhopeful. All of the above can be quite draining and detrimental and take a toll on workplace morale. Here are a few tips on how to engage and call that negativity to attention:


Tips for Working with a Debbie Downer


Don’t Ignore Them. Typically, office downers might have something on their mind they probably want to share but are instead letting their body language, expressions, and maybe not-so-subtle words speak for themselves. Ignoring this behavior and brushing it off only adds tension. Talk to them about what’s up. Confront it rather than letting it build and cause rifts.


Published on May 4th, 2017

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emotional intelligence in the workplaceHow do you predict if an employee will succeed or fail in their role?  If you hire the candidate with the most experience and highest GPA, they should become a star player in your organization, right?


For years people assumed that Intelligence Quotient, IQ, was the source of a person’s success.  However, studies indicated that people with the highest IQs outperform those with average IQs just 20% of the time, while people with average IQs outperform those with high IQs 70% of the time.  Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves provides an in-depth look at this topic.

Published on March 28th, 2017

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CROSS-GENERATIONAL MENTORSHIPOver the course of my career, I have had the pleasure of having 2-3 older friends that happen to be Baby Boomers that have remained interested in helping me grow professionally to this date. It dawned on me in my late 20’s the level of sincerity and genuine nature of their dedication to helping me. When I realized what they were doing and the level of impact that this cross-generational mentoring was having in my personal and work life, I made a commitment to myself that I would “pay it forward” and be on the lookout to become a mentor to others. I love a couple of quotes I recently read in The Daily Walk Bible – “Life is a lot like tennis – the goal is to learn to serve better” and “The object of teaching is to enable those taught to get along without a teacher”.

Published on February 23rd, 2017

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holiday giving in the workplaceFruit cake, gift card, bonus, product, or something else…agh! What do I give? Holiday giving in the workplace can be as tough as figuring out what to get your Great Aunt June! If you are thinking about giving holiday gifts to your staff this season consider these few things.



Before you put the effort in to finding the perfect gift, double check your company handbook (or ask your superior if necessary) to make sure holiday gift giving is allowed. Then develop a consistent approach for selecting who and how much you’ll invest. Remember gifts can come in many forms, not just money. I’ll share a few ideas below!


Consistency doesn’t mean you have to give equally across all employees, but you do need logical reasoning to justify your decisions. For example, if you are providing a Christmas bonus, perhaps you base the value on % of salary or weighted based on revenue generated.


Being consistent across employees is obviously the easiest, but doesn’t always make sense. And, it could depend on what you are gifting. Just remember, you don’t want holiday gift giving to become a demotivator for the team because there is unexplainable inconsistency amongst what various team members receive.

Published on December 15th, 2016

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EMPLOYEEGuest Blog by Paul Lander,

Employee Recognition


Simple Tips for Managers to Keep Employees Motivated and Productive

For most people, work is an inescapable reality. People work because they have to, not necessarily because they want to. Yes, there are “dream jobs”, but most people don’t work there. Yes, there are “high paying” jobs, but a lot people don’t work there either. For everyone else who gets up early and pushes through a tough day at work for average pay, a little recognition from their boss from time-to-time can go long way.
There are so many easy ways to positively recognize employees. Many employers use formal recognition programs for employees, including recognition for years of service, bonuses for exceptional performance, employee of the month honors, etc. But there are also plenty of simple informal employee recognition methods that are actually easier to apply and maintain – starting with your attitude.
Being a black cloud at work rains on everyone’s day. Saying good morning, or simply smiling as you enter your workplace gives your employees a sense of well-being, and reinforces that they are in a safe and friendly environment. Come in with a scowl on your face and make no effort to say hello, well, you can guess how your employees feel about that.

Published on October 10th, 2016

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campus ambassador programBack in 2004, developed a program to help spread the word on college campuses about the website and the employment brand of many of our partnership clients. The idea was to hire college students to be representatives on their campuses and give informative presentations to clubs and organizations about the website and showcase the types of internships and jobs that could be found on Over the course of 11 years, employed 50 students from 63 different campuses and quickly became the industry model for campus ambassador programs. Many others in the industry have come to us for assistance in developing their own programs, which has lead us to develop this top 10 list of things to consider when developing a campus ambassador program.


10 Tips for Creating a Successful Campus Ambassador Program


1. Ambassador programs are much like internship programs; you must be committed to achieving success. Depending on the size of your ambassador class, the length of their term and the duties they have, you more than likely need to dedicate a large portion (50-80%) of someone’s plate to effectively running the program.


2. Understand that students are most likely to be reachable at night. The person on your staff who manages this program must be able to flex their time.


3. Develop some type of accountability model for your ambassadors.

Published on June 24th, 2016

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inside the heads of unemployed candidatesUnemployed candidates are sometimes stereotyped as less desirable than those currently working- but is this always the case? Certainly not! Is your screening process eliminating applicants that are unemployed? If so, you could be missing a candidate that might be qualified or could be a great fit for your organization.


First, you need to look at why they are unemployed. Did they take time off to raise a family or relocate with a spouse? Were they part of a corporate restructuring or a major lay-off? Sometimes even the best employees are caught in situations that are beyond their control.


Are there advantages in hiring an unemployed worker?


No need to give a two-week notice–one of the major benefits is their ability to start immediately. surveyed candidates in the Candidate Motivation & Behavior in the Ag Industry survey, including questions for unemployed respondents about their job search behaviors.

Published on May 19th, 2016

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becoming a referenceYou’ve been asked to be a reference for a previous intern. Uh-oh! Now what?


Whether you are acting as a reference for a former employee, intern/student or friend, knowing exactly what to say and how to say it can come with some pressure. For many you are asked to be a reference for, you just want to do them justice and help them succeed. And then, you have those that maybe wouldn’t naturally get your best recommendation which adds even another level of complication.


Whichever the case, here are seven tips to becoming a reference maverick!


7 Tips to Becoming a Reference Maverick


1. Let’s take a step WAY back! If you know you may get asked to be a reference, particularly relevant for interns/students or employees, be sure to provide candid feedback on performance and skills throughout your time interacting with them. Help them learn where they need professional development and focus effort and time in helping them achieve that while you have the opportunity to influence. Helping to build the person up only makes your job as a reference that much easier.


2. Make notes. It can be hard to recall which employee or which intern did what from year to year. Keep a file folder or better yet, an electronic file (I have an email folder too) where you can house examples of work/notes that can easily be referenced and sorted to quickly refresh or access during a reference check.

Published on May 4th, 2016

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job seeker pet peevesIn most cases, “hate” is a strong word, but it is one word that job seekers will use to describe the application, interview and hiring processes of many employers. What exactly is it that they hate? The answer can vary depending on the industry, job type, and employer, but there are many common themes across all of these variables. And while some are difficult to change, others are not!


Job Seeker Pet Peeves


1. The ATS Abyss: Unfortunately depending on the size of your organization and other factors, this is difficult to change. The common perception among many jobseekers is that if you are applying via an online applicant tracking system (ATS) then you are essentially funneling your resume into a bottomless pit, never to be recovered.


2. The Interview Process: How long does it take to hire a candidate? Many job seekers express that they get turned off by a long interview process that drags on for months. This leaves an opportunity open for other employers to make an offer.

Published on February 26th, 2016

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