Fashionable farm EmployersTuesday, May 15, 2001
There are very few farmers that in some point in their life do not have the task of managing farm staff.
Be it family members or hired staff.
This is the time of year when generally many farmers face up to the seasonal transfers of staff and
perhaps have time to think with a degree of objectivity about their employment needs and responsibilities
for the coming season.
Speakers at last weeks Ruakura Conference spoke of the shifting attitude that sees staff as team members
rather than labour. In a time where titles and position descriptions are common in most industries
a shift in approach to fashionable teams and team leaders has been slow in coming to farming.
But for every excellent employer used in examples, it seems that the majority of farmers still follow
a pattern based on their own experience as a youthful employees. Generally a very autocratic experience
at that. But perhaps that is the nature of farming – the management of a variable environment
against very structured demands.
But times have moved on and management efficiency experts suggest that every staff member should be
a thinking unit, trained to be aware of management cause and effect and how to be a knowledgeable
decision maker on the fly, but most of all to be a motivated team player when well rewarded under
An easily recognised description but as five super twelve teams have miserably demonstrated that with
all those factors present it may still not bring success.
A recent Otago survey has however gives pointers to the order of key satisfiers for farm employees in
1. To be appreciated
2. To feel part of the team
3. To have personal objectives understood
4. To have job security
5. To receive a satisfactory wage.
The significance of this list is that the first four ‘rewards’ would cost nothing more than
good continuing communication skills on the part of the farmer and the emphasis needs to be on
the ‘continuing’ part of the communication skill.
Being fashionable is not a substitute for good leadership. Artificial poses are soon seen for what they
Employment is always personal!