1. Sharing the vision and goals
”This is a must for employers and employees to get to know each other,” says Michael. "We share a business prospectus with everyone at the first interview. It has our vision and purpose, what we’ve done in the past and what we hope to do in the future.” The Prankerds discuss prospective employees’ goals during their second interview, where decisions are also made about their overall fit within the team.
2. Aiding progression
The main focus for Ruth and Michael is to take employees from farm assistants through to second-in-charge (2IC) within the three-year period of a herd-owning agreement, so those employees are ready to apply for farm management roles. It’s been a successful model and one which fits with their goal of helping others to progress. “The ladder, while it’s changed, still exists, and we feel like we’re offering employees an opportunity to progress through the first few steps,” says Michael.
3. Developing employees
Members of the team are engaged in all aspects of the business, ensuring everyone is capable of running every part of the dairy farm. The Prankerds have seven key strategies to achieve this:
- Personal and business goal-setting is important for the whole team.
- Everyone can learn every skill to a high level.
- Business goals are shared and the team discusses progress and ideas to achieve them.
- During weekly meetings, every team member understands they’ll do every kind of task on-farm that week.
- Monthly health and safety meetings are chaired by different staff members on rotation.
- Performance reviews include goal setting, training/ development, how goals are tracking and what employees enjoy the most and why.
- People’s motivations are used to tailor an approach suited to each individual employee.
4. Establishing long-term relationships
Michael and Ruth’s ‘farming family’ approach has seen them build long-term relationships with like-minded people. They aim to develop their employees’ potential to invest with others in sharemilking roles and partnerships, as well as sharing the joy in achieving goals. “Working together in a successful team means you’ve got so much trust in each other, so the world does feel like your oyster. In the future, we may meet again and have further opportunities to work together,” says Michael. Ruth agrees. “We aim to give our employees confidence. Be realistic about what you can achieve in the sector and in your lifetime – but to some extent, shoot for the stars as well. Our employees help keep us on track and true to our values as well.”
For more information on introducing staff to your farm, visit dairynz.co.nz/people
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy April 2018