Feb 22, 2018
Any seasonal business has to deal with the fact that before the
season starts, they need to get the team ready. Today we’re going
to talk about what happens when we don’t get the team ready, the
importance of setting expectations at the beginning of the season,
and some tools for helping prepare your team to bring their
What happens when everyone isn’t on the same page as the
- Leaders feel like they have to have the same conversation 10
times. Frustrating and inefficient.
- People do not live up to the leader’s expectations when the
season hits. Creates bitterness and hurts communication.
- Stress for the employee who is caught between expectations from
home and work. Distraction—you don’t get their best.
- Accidents and breakdowns. People aren’t trained or they’ve
forgotten. Could lead to injury—nothing gets done when someone gets
hurt or there’s a breakdown...not to mention the higher insurance
But what about when we are prepared? You don’t feel
frantic at the last minute, you’ve worked out the plan and have a
back-up plan too.
- People are in better moods and make fewer mistakes.
- Repairs and accidents are rare.
- The team is creative and out of distress.
- You need less equipment because everything is working at peak
- Those are the fun years!
AREAS TO FOCUS OUR ENERGY DURING CROP YEAR
- Employees: Get them together as a team and have a session
before things get busy. The discussion isn’t around the to-do list
on the wall, but rather about the season that’s coming up, with the
objective of shared understanding and shared expectations. Maybe a
round table discussion—changes for the year, basic expectations,
safety procedure review, get questions or input from the team. It’s
a good way to hit the reset button. Remind the team that when it’s
go time, it’s go time—get your dentist appointments in before
spring hits, take the family on a weekend trip before you get too
- Family: It’s easy for us as farm leaders to focus hard on
getting the job done but forget that many people don’t have the
same understanding of the farm as we have. During the long,
demanding hours of the season, your employees have to balance being
a great employee with the demands of being a spouse and a parent
too. If you can get their support system on board, you’ll have a
much more effective employee. Get creative and be sincere.
- Suppliers: This one can also be easily be overlooked. You might
think that because you’re paying your suppliers, there isn’t much
you need to do. However, I would encourage you to first get on the
same page as to expectations and understanding; lay out your needs
and negotiate expectations before the season hits. Secondly, do not
forget the people responsible for delivery. A lot of farmers might
think people will jump higher if you make more noise, but in my
experience people will do just enough to make others stop fussing,
while they’ll go the extra mile for leaders who respect and
- Service: Ensure performance is going to be there when the
season hits by making sure the welds are checked, bearings
replaced, wires inspected and so on—those things that are likely to
trip you up when you roll. The other component of service is
safety—make sure the brakes are in good order and the lights work.
Make sure the windows are clean and there are fire extinguishers
and first aid kits around. Train the team on what’s expected for
regular service, the process for when breakdowns occur, and what is
expected on the farm for safety.
- Contingency planning: Have a plan B in place. What are our
choices if we need a different planting tractor? What if we get
delayed because of weather? Do we have options if we can’t do all
- Clear plans for the tasks ahead: Plan out the activities
happening to each field—tillage, spray, seed placement and speed,
- Eisenhower: “Plans are useless but planning is essential.” Plan
early before all the variables are in, and you will be mentally
ready to face many hurdles before they arrive. Occasional changes
will need to be made along the way, but it’s easier to
course-correct in the middle of an established plan than having to
start from scratch in the middle of a battle.
Being intentional as a leader helps the team to get in front of
what we know is inevitable. Consider your operation—What can I
do to get my people ready? My equipment set? My actions laid
out? Time invested now will save a lot of potential headaches
We always welcome your feedback at Modern Farm Business Podcast.
Do you have suggestions for future episodes, or questions on
something we’ve already covered? Drop Dean a line at
firstname.lastname@example.org. He’ll look at each email personally
and respond as quickly as possible.
As always, thank you for listening! See you next week!