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Welcome to the home of the Modern Farm Business® podcast, hosted weekly by Dean Heffta. Modern Farm Business translates proven methods and best practices from the business arena to today's modern farm leadership environment. We'll be learning from forward-thinking experts and discovering how to apply time-tested techniques to make real improvements on the farm.

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Sep 28, 2017

Dean explores five types of meetings and discusses four tips for effective meetings which will boost your farm’s internal communication game.

Communication system: All the channels, methods & messages used to keep people informed and help information flow to and through everyone involved
Meeting: Two or more people exchanging information at one time

Many employees of large organizations complain of too many meetings; many smaller organizations can suffer from not enough meetings, assuming that informal conversations are enough to communicate to people involved. The key is to utilize the LEAST amount of communication that is NECESSARY for the people in the business. This will be different for different operations, and will likely vary seasonally.

FIVE TYPES OF MEETINGS:
1. Daily huddle: Short (10-15 minutes), simple, rather informal. Gather everyone usually at the beginnig of the day and focus on the priorities for the day, who is doing what, and where help might be needed. Some organizations do these standing-room only, quick in-and-out, lots of energy.
2. Weekly: 30-40 minute, sit-down meeting to tell everyone what’s coming over the next couple of weeks which needs to be prepared for. The leader should prepare topics ahead of time and facilitate open discussion to reveal different perspectives.
3. Seasonal prep: Get everyone together pre-planting or pre-harvest to prepare for the upoming season. Might catch people up on safety training or maintenance schedules, set expectations for time off, etc. It’s about thinking a few months ahead and looking at bigger priorities.
4. Annual strategic: Key decisionmakers gather to focus on planning the next one to five years for the business, including its direction, financial investments, staffing—long-term, big-picture stuff. Could involve an outside facilitator, and may last as long as a couple of days.
5. Ad hoc: Unscheduled meeting arranged for special purposes typically for decision-making regarding a time-sensitive subject. Sometimes useful to incorporate a time limit on the meeting to enhance focus and efficiency in arriving at a decision.

FOUR TIPS FOR GOOD MEETINGS:
1. Consistency: If you plan a weekly meeting every Monday morning at 8:00, then conduct a weekly meeting every Monday at 8:00. It’s that simple.
2. Facilitating vs. telling: Meeting leader should keep the pace and direction of the meeting on target, as well as encouraging open communication among all present in an exchange of ideas that works toward conclusions.
3. “Parking lot”: Topics that need to be discussed can be “parked” and revisited later where more appropriate or where they can get the attention they deserve without derailing the current discussion.
4. What/who/when: When decisions are made in a meeting, answering these questions ensures execution and increases accountability:
- WHAT is the action to be executed as part of the decision?
- WHO is responsible for executing that action?
- WHEN will it be done?


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 dean@modernfarmbusiness.com. He’ll look at each email personally and respond as quickly as possible.

Thanks for listening! See you next week!