DairyNZ people team developer Alexandra Fjelstrup says motivation is the desire to do things and is the difference between waking up before dawn feeling ready to tackle the day, versus waking up ‘wishing I was somewhere else’.
“Motivation is a crucial element in getting through tough times successfully, while having energy to spare. Studies have shown you can influence your own level of motivation and that of others.”
Tackling calving – or any other challenging time – with motivation starts with increasing the feeling of autonomy, capability and social relationships within the farm team. Applying these elements will make for a more successful calving.
How to get motivated
Everyone is motivated by different things. For some it is money, for others it’s not being verbally called out or it is the job they do day in and day out.
Motivation can be split into two different types: external motivation and internal motivation.
External motivation involves doing something because it leads to a certain outcome – money, for example. Internal motivation is doing something because it is interesting or enjoyable.
“It requires a certain type of management to inspire internal motivation within the team for them to go through stressful times while finding their job interesting and enjoyable,” says Alexandra.
“Some farmers have discovered that the key to success during tough times is using internal motivation which never fades away, even when the ‘going gets tough’.”
A Canterbury farm owner recently reinforced this.
“When it’s cold and wet and your team has worked for many hours, you can’t rely on them to be motivated by the two days they had off back in June or the pay they will get in five days. You will have to rely on their inner motivation and drive, which at the end of the day boils down to how you can inspire this as a manager.”
Alexandra says farm managers, 2IC’s, sharemilkers, contractors – anybody with people responsibility – can inspire internal motivation within their team by focusing on turning up the feeling of autonomy, capability and social relationships within each individual on the farm.
Autonomy, or self-sufficiency, is particularly critical when it comes to creating and maintaining motivation. It comes from people feeling they have a say in their day, or a choice. Choice provides a sense of self-determination.
Examples from farmers who are great at inspiring autonomy are:
- providing the individual with some control over how to structure and plan their day
- giving the individual certain responsibility and let them know why they are responsible for these areas
- giving the individual the choice of “how” they will do the job
- making the team feel included in decision-making.
Ensure the team feels capable
Ensuring capability within a farm team will help increase internal motivation.
Capability is when someone feels capable of doing the job they have been given. Farmers who are constantly looking to grow their team are taking the right steps towards increasing internal motivation.
These farmers are training the team day-to-day and providing them with the opportunity to go to off-farm events such as MilkSmart, discussion groups or AgITO courses. Many are also aware of where the individual team member’s development areas are and conduct performance reviews on a regular basis.
Social relationships are key
The last ingredient on inspiring internal motivation is creating social relationships.
Studies have shown that one of the main drivers to people’s happiness is the social relations in their life. It is not about becoming everybody’s best friend, but taking the time for people.
Think: ‘do I take small coffee breaks together with the farm team?’ and ‘do I remain calm and respectful to people in my team when things get tough?’
Other questions include if weekly meetings are held with the farm team and goals for the week are communicated. All these small things can make a huge impact on a team and the social dynamic before heading into calving.
Ways to motivate your team
Inspire internal motivation within the team by focusing on turning up the feeling of autonomy, capability and social relationships within each individual.
Autonomy: provide staff with some control over how to structure and plan their day, and give them certain responsibilities.
Capability: ensure staff have the skills to do the job. Provide opportunities to attend off-farm events such as MilkSmart, discussion groups or AgITO courses.
Social relationships: small things can make a huge impact on a team and the social dynamic during calving. Take coffee breaks together, remain calm and respectful when things get tough and have weekly meetings.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy August 2016