Good employees are hard to find and expensive to keep. They are one of your most valuable resources.
You most likely manage your crop production to very detailed level using the latest technology. Do you apply the same attention to detail with your employees?
Establishing the principles below will not only produce a strong team but also get you to your goals faster.
Who is your team? At first glance, you may think this team is comprised of those who punch your time clock. However, the principles outlined below have applications for family, transition planning, and working with your vendors and bankers. Great teams just don’t just happen. Great teams are developed through deliberate, repeatable, and often simple actions you take every day.
There are six principles and values that are crucial in creating a high achieving, tight-knit, and effective team.
1. Know Thyself and Thy Team.
This topic was covered in detail in my August blog, but it bears mentioning again. Before you create a high-level team you first need to understand yourself. You need to understand how you naturally operate, communicate, deal with conflict, make decisions, your personality, and values. If you are unaware of these components of yourself it will be very hard to see and appreciate them in your team. Taking an honest look in the mirror can be difficult, but personality profiles are a great place to start.
We use Strengths Finder®, TKI Conflict Modes, and Extended DISC. These provide a basic set of tools and common language for working with each other. They open everyone's eyes to where they are strong, and where they need improvement, but also assists with placing your employees where they can use their natural talents best.
2. Values and Vision
Gallup and other organizations have extensively surveyed employees. This research spans many years, cultures, and industries. They have found that a lack of core values and lack of clear vision is a major demotivator for a team. Fleshing out values and vision for the farm allows everyone from the CEO, family, managers, even part-time employees to have an overall roadmap. Once the team has the blueprint they can see where they fit in and how they will be judged on performance. As part of our Executive Farmer Network peer group process, we interview employees. We often hear wildly different versions of what seems to be important (values) and what direction the farm is heading (vision). This step is vital and it isn't something that a CEO does in 30 minutes. Rather it is a process that brings together various stakeholders in the operation to flesh it out. Then complete the process by ensuring everyone on the farm knows where they fit within the vision.
3. Communicate Often
Constantly communicate, listen, get feedback, and celebrate milestones with your team. This can be on an operational basis with daily activities, but also individual job performance. A favorite of some farms is a daily tally of acres harvested and other metrics so the team can see the progress and know they are helping their one another toward the goal. It also helps them see how their actions affect the rest of the team. For example, if someone is careless and breaks a key piece of equipment the daily tally suffers and the whole team suffers. Talk about what is working. Talk about what is not working and solicit ideas from your team on how to improve.
If want to have a stronger team but are "stuck," give me a call or email me: 320-288-4084 or [email protected]
Tim Schaefer founded Encore Consultants to provide specialized advising and coaching to farm families and agribusiness at the crossroads of change. With over 20 years of experience advising farmers, Tim was an early pioneer of peer advisory groups for agriculture as a way for successful farmers to gain knowledge, ideas and skills from each other in a non-competitive environment. Tim can be reached at [email protected]
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.