If people understand what is important, why it is important and how they can contribute, then they are much more likely to perform at their best.
The best employers take the time to set goals, and then determine what work needs to be completed to achieve these. Both the goals and the workplan are then communicated to employees, monitored and reviewed regularly.
Spending time up front getting organised and planning saves you time as people know what they should be doing and when. It allows you and your employees to set priorities.
- Discuss with your partner/family what your medium term goals are and write them down.
- Take your goals for the coming year and break them down, often by season is best, to determine what you need/want to achieve this year.
- Communicate your plans for the year to your team. Explain what the targets are and why they are important. Take the time to see what the rest of the team has to say. This will give them real buy-in to the process which is likely to result in greater commitment and motivation.
- Assign tasks and responsibilities to each team member according to their skills, experience and position. Make sure each person has a realistic workload, that they will have good work/life balance and that their remuneration is fair for their responsibilities.
- Ensure your farm set up, infrastructure, team and rosters are designed to support your goals.
- Regular team meetings are a good opportunity to review progress towards goals.
- Get organised daily, or at least weekly, with a list of tasks that need doing and communicate these to your team. Team meetings are a good opportunity to do this.
- Review long term farm goals and job descriptions at least every year.
- Make sure all employees understand the expectations and responsibilities of their role by having clear job descriptions.
- Ensure that any key performance measures for employees are aligned to your farm goals.
Quick Questions & Answers
What is the right roster system to use for my farm?
First and foremost, you need to make sure you have the right number of people doing the right jobs. Being short-staffed is stressful and tiring for everyone on the farm and can potentially lead to corners being cut and accidents happening.
Talk to your staff about what kind of roster system would work for them. Great employers will aim for a maximum average of 45 working hours per week and a minimum of 3 days off every fortnight. Consider ages and stages as well. Young employees may prefer the weekends off to catch up with friends, parents may appreciate time off during the week to attend school events.
Design a roster that best meets both the business's needs and employees' preferences. Good rosters are simple, easy to follow and also have flexibility. Some examples of commonly used systems are:
5 days on, 2 days off
6 days on, 2 days off
5 days on, 3 days off
11 days on, 3 days off
9 days on, 3 days off
11 days on, 3 days off, 6 days on, 1 day off
Next, write down what the roster would look like over a two or three month period. Consider as well whether you require any additional staffing e.g. relief milkers or part-time farm hands to assist on weekends/rostered days off. Both you and your staff need time off to recharge your batteries and if the work can’t be delayed then it’s probably time to get in some extra help.
How do I start taking a less day-to-day role on my farm?
You need to start delegating, involving and trusting your team to help you achieve this.
Delegation involves giving up a measure of control (exactly how tasks are done and when) while keeping overall accountability (living with the results) so you first need to consider whether you are able to do this.
The next step is to determine what you can reasonably delegate to your existing team and whether you will need to employ new staff. Involve your team in working through this process, see what ideas they have and if they are interested in accepting new responsibilities. Remember that responsibility needs to be matched to skills, knowledge and capability and also needs to be recognised with appropriate remuneration.
Ensure you have an effective training plan in place for your employee/s.
If you have several employees or more, the goal of getting out of the dairy is likely to be more achievable as you probably have junior through to more senior employees. Where it is just you and a farm assistant it is likely to be trickier as the step up for them will be significant. You will need to decide if you can work through a development plan to increase their skills and experience, or whether employing a more senior employee who can "walk" into the role is more appropriate.
Often stepping back from the day-to-day tasks will allow you to focus on the big picture and more strategic issues allowing your business to grow. Alternatively you might have a higher wage bill but more time for fishing! Both outcomes should be recognised as successful - it just depends on what you want.
How do I manage my employee's time effectively?
Most employees should be managing their own time however they can only do this effectively if you have made sure they clearly understand their responsibilities.
Employees need to clearly understand what areas and/or tasks they are responsible for and what the priorities are. This should be communicated verbally and by an up-to-date job description, regular performance reviews and weekly staff meetings.
You can further assist by ensuring they have the right training and skills to do all their required tasks in a timely manner.
Remember that a job done quickly might not be a job done well, so judge people on doing the job right in a reasonable timeframe, not doing a job quickly.