Whether it is between father and son, manager and staff or with salesmen, negotiation takes place on farms every day. Louise Hartley reports from Dairy Co’s negotiation and influencing skills workshop held in Boroughbridge.
Dealing with staff-related issues can be one of the trickiest challenges a farmer/farm manager has to face, and one which can impact heavily on a business’ productivity.
Unlike other industries, many farm managers have little specialised training and, as such, handling confrontational situations or problems can be difficult – particularly when working with family.
Taking time to consider how you approach difficult situations with employees can make a big difference, especially when reprimanding staff.
Routine appraisals are an excellent way of highlighting issues which you or your employee may have, praising good work and setting targets for improvement – all of which will benefit your business.
Firstly, it is important to note an appraisal does not have to be an Apprentice-style interview. It may be a short discussion on the first Monday of every month to assess if targets are being met and the employee is comfortable with their tasks. A more in-depth appraisal could take place every six or 12 months.
Livestock, machinery and milking parlours are regularly assessed and looked after on-farm – employees should be treated no differently.
Consultant Alastair Gibb, Cedar Associates, said: “Asking employees to fill out a questionnaire before the appraisal can help identify areas to discuss and set an agenda.
“Understanding their needs will help improve your business – when staff feel understood they are more likely to be accommodating to your demands.”
Things to include in an appraisal might be:
• Description of role – this may need re-assessing as the employee settles in to the business and becomes more able, or when situations change on-farm
• What is going/has gone well
• What can be/could have been done better
• Immediate needs to enhance current performance
• The employee’s career goals
• Their route to achieving these aspirations
• The employee’s ideas