Mentors and coaches have high levels of credibility due to their experience. Spending time with a mentor or a coach allows employees to look at a situation through different eyes and extends their thinking beyond the obvious. Mentors and coaches may be independent of the immediate farm business which can help provide clarity about what the big goals really are without getting bogged down in the day-to-day stuff.
- Spend time choosing the right mentor, or coach, for you and/or your team. This is critical, so make sure you pick the right person. Ask for recommendations, check references and spend time getting to know them.
- Mentors are motivated by wanting to impact on someone's life by sharing their knowledge and experiences. Most mentors offer their time for free and this is a very personal relationship. It is quite common for bosses to become mentors for employees and this can be a very successful way of developing and empowering employees.
- Professional coaches are an excellent option when an alternative perspective is required. They are not necessarily industry specific, as coaching skills are transferrable, but there are companies that do specialise in dairy farm coaching.
- Coach your own employees - Instead of telling employees the answer, ask questions so they can identify the solution. Explain different sides of a situation so they learn to see a rounded view and how a small decision can impact a much bigger area.
- Empower your team to make better decisions by coaching, not telling them, how to deal with a situation.
- Involve and engage your employees.
- Help find a mentor for your employees (or do it yourself) who can guide and develop their potential.
Quick Questions & Answers
When do I use coaching or mentoring?
Mentoring is particularly effective when people have just taken on a new and challenging role or are looking for such an opportunity. The desire for new skills and learning at these times is heightened so people have a greater focus.
Coaching can happen every day, but often occurs when a business, or individual, realises they needs to make a step change to achieve their goals and a professional is bought in to change the leadership and team dynamics.
When should I coach or mentor my staff?
Coaching and mentoring are usually not things to squeeze into spare moments in the day. In general a good coach or mentor needs to commit over a reasonable period of time and then actually make time for it.
For mentoring it is important that both parties can concentrate and are not distracted so scheduling the discussion at night or off-farm can be a good idea. Be realistic about frequency - monthly or even quarterly discussions are probably about right for most people. Remember that a mentoring role may continue beyond your staff’s direct employment on your farm.
Of course there are aspects of coaching and mentoring that can happen in your day-to-day work. Think about the conversations you are already having and switch from giving your employees the answer to problems to asking your employees for solutions. Give your employees small chunks of extra responsibility along with some boundaries they can operate in, and let them know you are in the background to support them.
Learn effective tips for providing quality feedback which is critical to having engaged employees on farm.
If you use the coaching opportunities that are available to you each day your employees are likely to become empowered, motivated and more competent, giving you a more productive and independent team, and you will gain satisfaction from watching their progress.