Who is your team? At first glance, you may think this team is comprised of those who punch your time clock. However, the principles outlined below have applications for family, transition planning, and working with your vendors and bankers.
Great teams just don’t just happen.
They are developed through deliberate, repeatable, and often simple actions you take every day.
There are six principles that are crucial in creating a high achieving, tight-knit, and effective team.
1. Know Thyself and Thy Team.
This topic was covered in detail in my August blog, but it bears mentioning again. Before you create a high-level team you first need to understand yourself. You need to understand how you naturally operate, communicate, deal with conflict, make decisions, your personality, and values. If you are unaware of these components of yourself it will be very hard to see and appreciate them in your team. Taking an honest look in the mirror can be difficult, but personality profiles are a great place to start.
They open everyone's eyes to where they are strong, and where they need improvement, but also assists with placing your employees where they can use their natural talents best.
2. Values and Vision
Gallup and other organizations have extensively surveyed employees. This research spans many years, cultures, and industries. They have found that a lack of core values and lack of clear vision is a major demotivator for a team.
Fleshing out values and vision for the farm allows everyone from the CEO, family, managers, even part-time employees to have an overall roadmap.
Once the team has the blueprint they can see where they fit in and how they will be judged on performance. As part of our Executive Farmer Network peer group process, we interview employees. We often hear wildly different versions of what seems to be important (values) and what direction the farm is heading (vision). This step is vital and it isn't something that a CEO does in 30 minutes. Rather it is a process that brings together various stakeholders in the operation to flesh it out. Then complete the process by ensuring everyone on the farm knows where they fit within the vision.
3. Communicate Often
Constantly communicate, listen, get feedback, and celebrate milestones with your team. This can be on an operational basis with daily activities, but also individual job performance.
A favorite of some farms is a daily tally of acres harvested and other metrics so the team can see the progress and know they are helping one another toward the goal.
It also helps them see how their actions affect the rest of the team. For example, if someone is careless and breaks a key piece of equipment the daily tally suffers and the whole team suffers. Talk about what is working. Talk about what is not working and solicit ideas from your team on how to improve.
4. Tell them the "WHY" behind the major decisions
Your team needs context so make it a habit of communicating the "why" behind your major decisions. If your team sees the big picture they will help you fill in the gaps of what needs to be done and the purpose in their minds will be clear. While this sounds very simple it is powerful.
5. Be Genuine
Be genuine, honest, and have integrity.
People like to work with those they can trust.
They like to work with people who are honest with themselves. If you want to employees to be honest and open about their successes and failures, you, as farm leader, need to set the example. You don’t expect your employees to be perfect and they KNOW you aren't perfect so why act like it? Let your team know it is OK to admit a mistake to you. If you make a mistake that others on the team could learn from, come clean and use it as a teaching moment.
6. Be open to Ideas ~ Encourage Thinking
Being open means you are open to change, differing points of view, and ways of doing things. It also means you are coachable. People who are rigid and have a "my way or the highway" mentality end up isolating themselves and hindering teamwork. Be open to using collaboration to solve problems when necessary.
If the CEO is always dictating the solutions to every problem, the team will never learn to think on their own.
Sometimes the best ideas for solving a problem come from the bottom up not the top down so team members should be encouraged to problem-solve.
Think about your current team.
Is it everything you would like it to be?
Do all six components work together like a well-oiled machine or is something missing?
These principles can have a dramatic impact on the success of your farm, family business harmony, and even your stress.