People are one of the most important assets that you will have on farm. The success and contribution your people will add to your business is determined on how well you empower them and build engagement and motivation. Good leaders and employee support mechanisms and systems can help a business bring out the best from each team member.
Other industries have been focusing on building people talent and engagement for decades, and farming is slowly catching up. Team development, empowerment and culture have been a priority for us as we continue on our lean journey. We have slowly been developing our people systems to improve our team’s capability, empowerment, accountability and engagement.
Last year we started ran our first Annual Employee Engagement Survey using an online anonymous tool called Survey Monkey. These kind of surveys are standard in many other sectors but probably very rare in farming. This survey is designed to be anonymous and contains around 60 questions covering many different aspects of our business such as culture, team and systems and communication. Using a link shared via email and our team WhatsApp, our team could access the survey via a computer or on their phone. We are able to analyse the survey results and focus on the weak performing questions as well as the verbatim feedback received to help us drive further improvements that the team want to see. Whether you use a traditional paper survey or an online tool, doing a team survey at least once a year is a great way to see where there a gaps in your business and what your team really think.
Importantly the process must be seen by leadership as a positive process – it is helping you to hear the truth about how your team members feel and provides a fantastic opportunity to continuously improve and strive for perfection. While you might hear things that you don’t agree with, do not get insulted, defensive or target individuals to seek answers about their responses. That would be detrimental to the process. Take the feedback as a constructive way to address issues that may not be issues to you but are clearly issues for the team. Share the results with the team and work with them to brainstorm ways that the issues can be addressed. As a leader, you must be a role model in continuous improvement and receiving constructive feedback, always maintaining a positive attitude. By doing this, you will prove to your team that they can be honest, raising problems as they occur and contribute to the success of the farm.
A couple of snaps of our survey.