The Produce Marketing Association Foundation for Industry Talent’s mission is to attract, develop and retain talent. The High Performance Management Conference is one of several programs in the “develop” portion, providing professional development opportunities for employees in produce and floral companies worldwide.
“It fits in the ‘career continuum’ of programming and is geared toward mid-level managers,” Margi Prueitt, PMA senior vice president and PMA Foundation executive director, told The Produce News. “The program outlines the reason why training employees is important, and the PMA Foundation is a solution for employee development. It also explains what happens when employees aren’t trained.”
The 2014 conference, titled “Optimizing the Impact of Mid-Level Leaders,” marks the second year for the event. It is scheduled for Sept. 9-11 at the Hyatt Regency, Schaumberg (Chicago), IL. Prueitt said the High Performance Management Conference is PMA Foundation’s newest program.
“It was developed in response to industry interest in optimizing the impact of their mid-level leaders,” she explained. “This segment of employees is often overlooked for training as companies focus on getting those at the beginning of their career and those in senior leadership positions. In fact, according to a Harvard Business Review survey, and I quote, ‘67 percent of responding organizations said they needed to entirely revamp their middle manager development programs; 30 percent of European companies felt they had enough successors in the pipeline for key leadership positions; 15 percent of North American and Asian companies felt they had enough successors in the pipeline for key leadership positions; and 85 percent of respondents felt their leadership pipeline would suffer without middle management development programs.”
Prueitt added that a 2010 report from Bersin & Associates further found that despite training investments, employers were rating 49 percent of their mid-level managers as performing fairly or poorly, and that the confidence in middle managers was steadily declining.
“The PMA Foundation High Performance Management Conference is the only produce and floral industry-specific training focused on the competencies that are required for today’s mid-level managers to meet the growing demand for fundamental leadership, strategic execution and financial management skills, allowing them to optimize their value to their company,” said Prueitt.
The 2014 program is being built in partnership with Advantexe Learning Solutions. Prueitt noted that Advantexe delivers the education through a simulation-centric learning framework. The HPMC program content addresses two parts of a mid-level manager’s job: industry-specific issues and personal leadership development.
“Industry topics at the conference will include macro trends, food safety and technology, consumer insights and crisis management,” said Prueitt. “The leadership development topics will focus on business acumen, horizontal leadership, project management and presentation skills. Each content area will be supplemented by a simulation exercise that will allow each participant to practice her or his own decision-making skills and receive feedback on-site.”
There is also a pre-conference Finance for Produce Professionals session aimed at arming mid-level managers with financial management skills required for their positions. This session, which requires and additional fee and registration, will help participants develop skills around basic financial principles and apply them in a real-world context. It will also focus on understanding financial statements and analysis in addition to identifying the links between strategy and finance.
The HPMC kicks off on Sept. 9 at 8 a.m. with the Pre-Conference: Finance for Produce Professionals, which lasts until noon. From 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. the keynote address, titled The Macro Picture, will be held. The High Performing Leader Framework & Tools program will be held from 2:50 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Introduction to High Performing Manager Simulation will run from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. A networking dinner is scheduled for the evening.
Keynote: Customer Insights will start the day on Wednesday at 8 a.m. until 9:15 a.m., followed immediately by Introduction to Business Acumen. High Performing Manager Simulation Workshop I begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 11:45 a.m. Food Safety will be the topic of the next program from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., followed by Crisis Management, which will end at 3:30 p.m. Following a 15-minute break, High Performing Manager Simulation Workshop II begins at 3:45 p.m. and ends at 5:15 p.m. Another networking dinner is planned for the evening.
On Thursday, the final day of HPMC, the morning begins at 8 a.m. with Horizontal Leadership, a one-hour program. At 9:15, Breakout 1: Project Management begins, followed immediately by Breakout 2: Presentation Skills. At 10:45 until noon, Breakout 3: Coaching & Feedback, followed by Breakout 4: Change Leadership will be held. High Performing Manager Simulation Workshop, Part III will be from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m., and from 2:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. the Conference Summary & Assignment will be conducted.
The intensity of the conference is a strong indicator of the seriousness of the topic.