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Check in with your team this winter

Plan individual, group meetings to catch up and prepare.

During busy seasons, it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘to-do’ list of the day. And really, that’s out of necessity. That’s how we, as the leader and manager of the farm, make sure that everything that needs to get done during those critical times on our farm is happening.

That focus can serve us well as we direct the activities of others on the farm, whether it’s our employees or other family members who work within the operation. Bringing our commitment to getting things done within the right time frames can make a difference in how effective and efficient our operation is, especially during harvest and planting.

As we’re in a less busy season right now on the farm – certainly in terms of operational urgency – I believe this can be a good opportunity to do some more intentional ‘check ins’ with others on the farm. This includes anyone who is employed on the farm – whether a family member or non-family employee.

One-on-one interaction

One thing you might consider is having a one-on-one meeting with each person. This could range in terms of structure from a formal employee review of their performance over the past year to more of a ‘check-in’ discussion meeting looking at a chunk of time – such as the past six months or so.

Regardless of how formal or informal you’ll make the meetings, take time before each one for some thought and planning. Think about that particular employee and their contributions to the farm. How have they, individually, made a difference in the operation? You might consider thinking of specific examples of something they did that made a difference.

If you haven’t ever conducted formal employee reviews before and want to start doing that, you’ll need a plan and some basic structures. Keep in mind that you need to be keeping the required human resources (HR) records on file for each of your employees. You can consult with our farm business advisors on more specifics around planning and conducting formal employee reviews.

Time with the group

Another way to check in and spend some quality time with employees is to have a group celebration event. This might be with all employees, or employees plus their spouses or their families. Or it could be something like a group of your employees attending a farm show or farm meeting together this winter, and making a trip out of it.

It could be a simple get-together with dinner for employees and their families. That type of event may be part of a ‘thank you’ for long hours put in during busy seasons. This allows you to clearly show your appreciation for sacrifices of time made by your employees – and their families.

You might also plan another group meeting – this one just for employees. You can review how the past year went overall from an operational standpoint, and discuss the upcoming spring season. Talking about planting season now rather than later can help employees plan and prepare mentally for the additional time and demands the season brings.

What’s your plan for how you’ll check in and catch up with your farm’s team this winter? Make it a priority now before spring preparations kick into gear.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

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