In an effective team the work output is much greater than the sum of the same individuals working alone. If a team has a strong foundation then challenging experiences and situations can be worked through with greater success.
If there is a good team on farm then going to work is fun and something to look forward to and work becomes more than just a job, which helps retain staff longer.
- Communicate clear expectations to employees and ensure that you deliver on your promises.
- Insist that everyone on farm treats everyone else with respect and as they themselves would like to be treated. Make sure you behave to this standard at all times. Rules and guidelines, like a code of conduct, help people understand what is acceptable.
- Farm goals and targets can be shared to create a common goal so people strive for the same thing.
- Encourage and organise discussions/meetings/training/social events where everyone is present. Let people get to know each other, understand each other's role and responsibilties and how their different jobs fit together to make a complete puzzle or team. Utilise the skills and strengths of the team.
- Make your farm a place where people know they will be listened to and respected for their opinion and effort, no matter their position.
- Encourage teamwork by giving everyone the same level of information where possible about farm targets and goals and how you are tracking. This keeps everyone feeling in the loop and involved.
- Have fun together - arrange a team bbq, a day of fishing, a hike or a concert. Laughing together in a relaxed setting lets people see each other in a different light.
- Recognise and reward team success so employees are motivated to work together.
- Share the goals and targets of the farm so the team have something to work towards.
- Model great teamwork yourself by communicating what is going on and pitching in on some of the tough jobs.
Quick Questions & Answers
When do I focus on building teams?
Take every realistic opportunity to cement team relationships. You won't always be able to get the entire team together but if the opportunity arises then take it. And remember team building is still taking place when just two people are working together on a project or task.
How do I introduce a new team member to the team, part way through the season?
Introducing any new member to a team will change the team dynamics – because there is a different personality coming on board and because the existing team often haves to do more while the new employee gets up to speed. The more time you spend on getting the new employee integrated, the quicker their performance will improve and become of value to the team. A great idea is giving your new employee a buddy (an existing employee who can work closely with the new person) to teach them how things are done on this farm.
An ordered way to do this is to work through a good orientation. This will last at least three months and take a new employee from knowing nothing about your farm to being a valuable employee.
A good orientation should include:
- learning about the expected standards, policies and procedures for this farm;
- learning about the code of conduct expected on this farm, e.g. behaviour and language;
- ensuring tasks and responsibilities are understood and practising them with supervision, if required;
- introduction to, and time with, the entire on-farm team and any key off-farm contacts, e.g. the vet; and
- developing a training plan so they learn any extra skills required for their role.
Read more about orientating new staff into your business.
How can I be seen to be fair to all employees when some are family members?
The best way is to have the same "rules" and "expected standards" for all employees, and to live by these.
You need to ensure that on-farm all employees are treated equally.
In practice this means things like:
- the roster is fair to everyone;
- the expected hours of work are the same for a specific job;
- not giving your family members extra time off during the day, or long lunch breaks, unless this same right is given to all;
- not passing on confidential information about other staff members to family members; and
- not giving all the "good jobs" to your family employee and the "dirty jobs" to others.
Everyone needs to be kept in the loop and feel like they are an equal part of the team. This means key information needs to be shared with everyone, maybe at a weekly staff meeting. It is important to ensure that any work discussions over breakfast, or at a family function, also get discussed with non-family employees.
Find out how to run a successful staff meeting which will keep everyone in the loop.