Regular farm meetings strengthen communication
Farm management experts often stress the importance of communication in the creation and maintenance of a successful farm business team.
Taking time to meet regularly to ensure jobs are organized, everyone is on the same page, feels included and that issues are dealt with quickly and effectively can be critical.
It’s common for people to say they don’t have time to meet.
This is where Jared Sherman, general manager of Soderglen Ranches near Airdrie, Alta., believes the mindset must change.
He says sometimes people confuse whether there is time to meet with whether they want to make it a priority.
“We have time to make sure that everyone is on the same page, that we’re all working towards the same goals, that issues are resolved and that there are different things that need to come up that need to be talked about,” Sherman says.
Christine Legein is the CEO of Ontario-based Bossy Nagy Group. She says when businesses don’t have a broad business plan, they often become reactionary to issues.
“When you have a plan, it forces accountability and responsibility,” Legein says, adding meetings can help the whole management team focus on priorities. “It helps you manage your operation proactively, rather than reactively.”
Short and effective
Sherman says meetings can be as short as 15 minutes.
“It reorganizes people,” Sherman says. “It gets everyone back on the same page. It can alleviate a lot of stress, and it can reduce a lot of pressures that would typically have been felt or fires that need to be put out.”
Legein, who organizes monthly meetings for her clients, says the investment in effective communication is invaluable on the farm.
“When communication breaks down, especially on family farms, it can lead to misunderstandings, internal infighting and deadlines missed.”
Sherman says most of the time, there should be no surprise topics during a meeting.
He says he likes to have a clear direction, stated well in advance or proper notice. Otherwise, the goal of the meeting might be pointless and drag on.
Legein agrees, and says she circulates an email with an agenda about a week to 10 days before the meeting.
“Like a production update, or if a new barn is being built... how is the new barn coming?”
She says attendees can then add special items to discuss, so when they get to the meeting, it includes everyone’s discussion points.
Sherman says sending an advance email to all staff invited to the meeting ensures no one is blindsided, and the meeting time is used efficiently.
Farm management experts say regular meetings with staff and the management team are important. Meetings help the flow of communication, make a farm operation proactive rather than reactive to any issues and create responsibility and accountability in the operation.