As you lead your operation through growth, a necessary part of that growth is other people. When you first started farming, maybe it was just you and a few family members doing the work. But with additional growth and complexity, it was time to hire an employee or two – and more family members were added as well.
Suddenly, you were dealing not only with the types of day to day problems you were used to working through – there was more to deal with. I’m talking about people problems.
Problems of any type on the farm are certainly complex – whether they’re related to a production issue or a business challenge. But often when you compare these problems to the types of issues that can come along with human beings – whether they’re employees or family members working on the farm – the ‘people’ situations are just trickier. There’s more going on. Relationships are at stake.
The leader’s role
As the farm’s leader, you’re the one dedicated to coordinating the resources and people to get everything done. That often means directing employees and family members for a good portion of your day.
Many a farm leader or any business leader, for that matter, has been known to think or maybe even say out loud, “Business would be easy – if it weren’t for the people!” Or we may believe that the world would be better off if everyone else would just approach life the same way as we do, which isn’t true.
What is true is that people – and their issues – can be complex. They can require a large amount of our time and energy, which are limited resources for leaders. But there are ways to inspire the commitment and cooperation of everyone involved on your farm – and it all starts with understanding yourself and others better.
What to do
When you know more about yourself and others on your farm – each unique personality and what makes it tick – you can use that knowledge to motivate others better, solve conflicts more effectively and ultimately run your operation more efficiently. Applying what you can learn from personality assessments helps with any number of ‘people’ issues that can pop up on the farm.
In a growing, dynamic farm business, working with other people is almost unavoidable. It’s best to take the challenge head on, rather than trying to avoid situations that might be uncomfortable, whether it’s confronting an employee about a performance-related issue or talking with a family member about their future role on the farm.
Working to understand other people – especially our family members and others involved on the farm – can bring a huge payoff for the trust level and commitment of everyone in the operation. When communication is flowing well, the people on the farm may feel less frustration or tension – and be able to persevere better and add more value.
As part of your role as the farm’s leader, commit to getting a better understanding of people – including yourself. The benefits extend to both your family life and life on the farm. You can talk with one of our advisors for more information on how to get started doing this.
Read the current issue of the Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. This issue includes perspectives on what to do when a landlord asks for higher rent, how to find the right new employee, a farm business checklist for the spring season, and more. Get your free online issue here.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.