People First: Making Stronger Connections with Staff – Shall we talk about “love”?


By Nigel Davies

One of the few benefits of Covid 19 has been to encourage farmers and their staff to achieve stronger connections and improve their communication skills. Under the threat of the disease and its associated impacts, it has been essential to achieve clarity on the practicalities of safety, rotas and responsibilities. However, I wonder how many of those discussions have progressed to talking about “love”?

The renowned Chairman and CEO of Apple is quoted as saying that “The only way to do great work is to love what you do………”.

In other words, obvious as it might sound, it is indisputable that an individual who enjoys their work and is best suited to it will outperform one less suited every time, and especially when the pressure is at its highest. Likewise, the farm manager or owner who has a genuine passion for his or her business is more likely to excel than someone who is less emotionally invested.

Finding the Love

How then to nurture that love for the job in the face of the practical trials such as weather, economics and disease that often descend to dismantle the good intentions of many farming businesses? Most farming businesses don’t have the resources to carry out large scale employee engagement surveys that a corporate organisation would. They have a better way! Nothing beats the regular and evolving informal conversation between a farmer and his team member. Or if that is too bold a step, the one to one conversation between a trusted adviser to the farm and its team members.

The first step

Having achieved clarity on safety, rotas and responsibilities, why not move to the next step? Not an interrogation, but a conversation with good questions that are genuine:

  • What day last week was your (or your employee’s) favourite and why?
  • What is it that you (or your employee) would like to do more of?
  • How well do you (or they) know what passion initially started you off as a business person or an employee doing what you do?

Taking the first step in communication can be daunting, but by making stronger connections with all staff and understanding their love for the job, achieving success will be more likely.