Team communication


3 min read

Effective communication Different personalities Additional resources

Good communication is key in any workplace for morale, engagement, productivity and job satisfaction. As dairy farms have become more complex and teams have increased in size the need for clear, effective and respectful communication is vital to ensure people understand their role, their responsibilities, and feel empowered to complete their job to a high standard.

How to achieve effective communication on farm

Communication is a two-way process. It involves one person sending a message and another person listening and interpreting that message and then ideally providing feedback. But it isn’t just as simple as what is said or written. Body language and voice tone have a huge impact on how people interpret information, as well as peoples’ previous experiences.

Some of the challenges that exist in on-farm communication include:

  • The size of farm teams is increasing – meaning a lot more effort needs to be put in to ensure a common understanding and positive team culture.
  • The variety of languages and cultures that are often present in farm teams.
  • Overlapping instructions – where team members hear or get different instructions from two different people and there is confusion around what is required.

Communication is a life skill and it’s an area where we can always improve. Effective communicators typically:

  • Know your audience - who are you speaking to and what will be important to them.
  • Identify the information you want to convey.
  • Choose an appropriate time when the other person can listen.
  • Be aware of your body language – keep it open.
  • Be aware of the volume and timing of the information you are sharing.
  • Are clear and concise with what they say.
  • Listen carefully to understand the other person’s perspective.
  • Ask and encourage questions to ensure everyone has the same understanding.

Many online resources and training opportunities can help you improve your communication skills and you can also put in place meetings and practices in your workplace that support good communication.

Using low-cost technology for team communication is an easy way to improve workplace efficiencies. Many farms are using WhatsApp as a tool to communicate tasks amongst the team, however, other options go further to help assign and track tasks. Mobile apps like Asana and Trello use a Kanban-style approach to list-making, with a clear view of who’s doing what and what needs to get done.

Communicating with different personalities

One of the resources that can be helpful to use in your farm business to communicate with people is the DOPE personality traits questionnaire. Taking the time to understand your team members can help you to communicate with them in the way they are most receptive to. It’s important to remember that no person fits completely into any one personality type.

In the DOPE questionnaire, people answer a series of questions which then allocates scores across four bird personality ‘types’ – dove, owl, peacock or eagle – each of whom have a preferred way of communicating and being communicated with.

Completing the DOPE (or a similar model) as a team-building exercise or during the recruitment process can be both a fun and useful experience to assist with understanding other team members for a more productive team and workplace.

The 4 bird personality type traits

Quick and simple definitions of what the four bird personality types are.


The peaceful dove. The dove is people-oriented, loyal, friendly, hard-working and a great team player but tends to avoid change, confrontation, risk-taking and assertiveness.


The showy peacock. The peacock loves talking, being the centre of attention, has passion/enthusiasm and is happy/optimistic. Peacocks can be accused of talking too much, and aren't good with detail or time control.


The wise owl. The owl is logical, mathematically-minded, methodical and sometimes seen as a perfectionist. The owl can be slow to make decisions and inflexible if rules and logic say otherwise. Owls are not big risk-takers but love detail.


The bold eagle. Eagles are dominant, stimulated by challenge, decisive and direct. Eagles can blunt/stubborn, can lose sight of the big picture and can be insensitive to other people's needs. Eagles are natural achievers.

Last updated: May 2024

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