February 11, 2022
During the off-season, it seems like our employees spend about half an hour every morning wasting time chatting and joking. I’ve tried to talk with them about it, but nothing has changed. Any tips? – L.B., Iowa
Many small business owners wish their employees would operate with the same “ownership mindset” that they do themselves. Thinking about the farm’s culture, an important element is how things get done – the standard operating procedures or routines and rhythms.
It may well be that the current rhythm and routine in your operation is to spend the first half-hour of the day chatting, connecting, and drinking coffee. There are a few things to consider if you want to change that.
First, you could have a candid conversation with your employees about what you expect. This isn’t about being angry or accusing them, but more of a roundtable discussion. Maybe they need more specific expectations and clarity of direction. You might let them know that they can come chat with each other over coffee at the beginning of the day, but it just can’t be while they’re on the clock.
Or you may find that you change your expectations about that time – maybe you’re willing to consider a team-oriented approach. I know a farm operation where the owner cooks breakfast every morning for the employees while they talk about what’s going on that day and create a game plan. It’s a social experience by design – while fostering better team communication.
Maybe you can shift your morning schedule so you can be around to talk about the game plan for the day, answer employee questions, and make sure they have what they need to get going right away.
Overall, ask yourself these questions:
How do you want your farm to operate?
What’s in place right now that supports the current actions you’re seeing?
What communication will help employees understand what you want to change?
Finally, how can you support them in making those adjustments?
Frye is president and CEO of Water Street Solutions.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.
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