Build Your Team on the Farm

Farm leadership starts with understanding the differences in how your employees think

Has your farm grown in the past few years? Maybe it's grown to the point where you now have employees, and some of them might be non-family members. If it has, you know that leading and managing employees can bring some new stress into your role as the farm leader.

Have you ever asked an employee to do a task that you always used to do? You tell them how to do it. You answer any questions they have. You feel like they have a good handle on what to do – so you leave them to do the job.

Later, when you see the results of their work, it isn't anything like what you had intended or how you used to do it. You ask yourself: 'What are they thinking? Were they listening to me at all?'

Personality differences can throw a curveball into the mix when we're trying to get things done on the farm. This happens because we're all wired differently. What we say means different things to different people. Your employees 'hear' your information differently, depending on whether their brains typically think in an abstract or concrete way.

Here's an example where this might happen. Did you have a meeting with all of your employees to prepare them for planting season? Afterward, you probably felt that you were very clear with them about your expectations and how you want things to be done.

But we all perceive things differently – and our perception becomes our reality. Your employees come out of the meeting each hearing your message slightly differently – because of the way their brain perceives it.

Knowing about the different personalities that are out there and the differences in how each person processes information can give us an advantage as we work with employees. It can show us how we need to talk to each employee, depending on how that person processes information. It can help us understand their learning style – do they learn best through visual or auditory information, or by doing?

Being aware of these differences also shows us how to best motivate each employee. It makes the whole team on the farm work together better – becoming a more well-oiled machine. The operation runs at its best when different personalities – with their different strengths – work together.

You probably cannot accomplish everything that you need to on the farm if you fly solo all the time. Working together, your team achieves much more than you could if you were working on your own. Especially if you're growing your farm, think about how to build strong leaders around you - embrace the idea of building your team.

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