Perfecting the art of personal interactions

Filling your farm team's gaps in soft skills like communication, teamwork, etiquette and attitude can be more of a challenge than addressing wanting areas of traditional farm work.

Michael J. Hughes, founder and CEO of NfR Consulting Group, explains interpersonal skills are the mechanics of interaction with others.

“It’s a combination of intention, attitude and behaviour,” Hughes says. “Because how you communicate and how you behave is an extension of what your intentions are and what your attitude is.”

Various styles at play

We judge ourselves by our intentions, but judge others by how they act, Hughes says. But this fails to consider that people generally aren’t acting out of deliberate maliciousness to cause harm or undermine productivity.

“We all have our own personality, communication style, strengths and weaknesses. And it’s all about adapting your style as you evolve and grow to understand what works best,” Hughes says.

To fill in any interpersonal skills gaps first requires recognition there’s an issue to begin with, says Ken Keis, president and CEO of Consulting Resource Group.

And, he adds, there’s no need to feel guilty about skills which may be lacking. Just acknowledge the gap and work to fill it.

The importance of teamwork

The more a farm’s leadership realizes its team must work as a cohesive unit, and the more its comments are positive and trust-building, then the more team members will realize and appreciate the values they have, Hughes says.

At the same time, the team will also be open to how they can make additional contributions to achieve desired results.

He stresses the need to make clear the goals and objectives around the contributions, both collectively and individually.

Farm family transition coach Elaine Froese advocates written codes of conduct that spell out expected behaviour, daily check-ins to review the day’s events, and even a series of meetings about communication strategy.

Ideas from @ElaineFroese to get your on-farm communications on track: write out expected behaviour, do daily check-ins and sit down to talk about your communication strategy. Tweet this

But change isn’t always so straightforward, and people can get stuck in their ways, Froese says.

Bottom line

Addressing interpersonal skills gaps is worthwhile in any farm operation. Acknowledge the gaps, experts say, and recognize strengths within the rest of the team.

Article by: Richard Kamchen