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I have a small farm with a team of about 20 staff. The farm is primary diary with an early stage of setting up a poultry section and has the potential to take on other types of farming
I am fully employed working, with an organisation in the agriculture sector. I have a small farm with a team of about 20 staff. The farm is primary diary with an early stage of setting up a poultry section and has the potential to take on other types of farming. I am not always there as this started as a hobby, but I think it is starting to require more attention, yet I am also fully employed. Of late it has come to my attention that my farm manager is doing “funny business” at the farm and the staff are complaining. How do I balance being employed and continuing my farming project that has the potential to grow?
Hello Catherine, well done on identifying the one thing you sound like you are passionate about. All the things many people enjoy start as a hobby and then they become real, and passion drives one to make it successful. You have several issues that need to be looked at. You have a farm that has the potential to grow but requires your time; you are employed, so managing work and a farm is complex, and then you have a people issue to address. These three issues require attention; otherwise, they can escalate and you have options. While the farm is essential, you have a contractual obligation that must be met. This is important, primarily if your source of capital to invest in the farm comes from your employment. Secondly, the farm manager and the workers’ issues must also be addressed because “funny business” can mean anything from theft, selling off your animals and compromising the farm.
It may be wise to take some time off work and deal with the farm manager and staff issues. You need to find out what “funny business” is going on, establish whether they are valid and then address them. In addition, you need to ensure your farm manager and his team have some form of structure and the essential tools to do their work. In this setting, it could be elementary as gum boots, tools to till the land, access to water and feeds for the animals; decent accommodation if they live on the farm and timely pay. In the case of the farm manager, does he have regular daily meetings with the team that he leads? does he show up to work and is available when his team needs him? It is also important to check that he keeps accurate account records. All these aspects are essential and contribute to “engagement”, which drives performance. There is an assumption that the farm is different from the office yet in reality, it is not, and in many cases, the dynamics of managing a farm are more complex than the office, but the principles of managing the people remain the same. So, address the people aspects, and then move on to deciding whether you can go into farming full-time. We can discuss that next week.
Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U) [email protected]