“Increasingly we have people speak to us about the proactive parts of developing their business, not just the compliance issues,” says Lee.
“Getting a successful and safe performance culture, learning how to best manage and lead your business, and having a coach to help, are where a rural professional adds value.”
The Waikato-based HR specialist says some clients want help with just one or two things, such as recruitment or a performance management problem, while others want an integrated people strategy.
Rural professionals bring focus
Working with a certified people consultant is one way to achieve focus on the farm’s people management.
“There is a lot of complexity to running a farm business – many of our clients are wearing lots of different hats,” says Lee.
“It's unrealistic to stay ahead of good practice in every area. That’s where your rural professionals come in.”
Tailor made advice
An HR person understands the people and leadership challenges of running a business and will come up with the right plan to get the right results.
“Good rural professionals don’t work to a formula,” says Lee. “They can tailor things to suit your circumstances and give examples of current best practice to develop your leadership skills and maximise the performance of your people.”
Lee recently worked with a small team where feedback was regularly given. The performance reviews had become something employees endured rather than enjoyed.
“We have replaced the performance reviews with twice a year individual planning meetings that focus on looking forward and helping people reach their personal and business goals.”
Lee says it has been positive for the team’s motivation. “The client is no longer worried about implementing something he ‘should do’ but wasn’t getting any value from.”
Leadership pays with profit
A DairyNZ study recently showed good people management means increased profit.
The study compared farms with good people management* and average people management. All 13 farms are from the same corporate business.
- Farms with good people management had $800/ha more EBIT (earnings before interest or tax) than those farms with average people management.
- Good leadership means a capable and motivated team, and team members retained on-farm.
- The DairyNZ Recruitment Cost Calculator estimates a cost of $35,000-$50,000 each time an employee is replaced. Keeping good staff frees up managers to make decisions on feed, reproduction and finances (worth $200-$2000/hour vs $20/hour for farm work).
- On the case study farms, somatic cell count is often up to 100,000 less on farms with engaged teams. Lameness and downer cows are reduced and reproductive performance is better. In short, well-led teams are better at looking after the cows and anticipating problems.
*Farms which have certified Investors in People managers – an international certification scheme.
The HR certified professionals scheme is jointly funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries through the Primary Growth Partnership.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy March 2016