Three steps to Unlocking Hidden Talent

By Nigel Davies

In so many small businesses, including dairy farms, a great deal of talent and capacity to take responsibility lies amongst the wider team, but remains hidden and undiscovered until perhaps a crisis such as ill health occurs to the business owner and then that hidden potential is forced into the limelight, often in situations of intense pressure. But does it always have to be that way? With a bit of communication and engagement, why can’t the benefit of talent be unearthed in less stressful times?

Because of the risk of upsetting the business owner, it is often the case that the most capable employees, sons or daughters are not the boldest at putting themselves forwards, and they need an environment which gives them the licence to take that responsibility and demonstrate their full worth. Underpinning this conducive environment will be the strengthening of trust between business owner and employee, son or daughter. This can take time but is a hugely rewarding investment.

Three ways I have experienced this success:

  1. Every alternate Tuesday, the business owner made a point of having a leisurely 90 minute breakfast after milking with all his employees together. This created the time and space for conversation leading to a deeper understanding what challenges and opportunities each individual had, and consequently some new ideas as to how everyone could help one another.
  2.  At every consultant visit to the business, the business owner made a point that the employee should have at least two questions to ask the consultant that he had never asked before. This often brought a fresh and original dimension to the farmer/consultant relationship.
  3. The business owner made a point of sending his daughter ahead of him to any discussion group workshop or farm walk, with the challenge to her of coming back with at least one new piece of relevant information from each meeting.

A member of the team whose talent has not been fully unlocked is like a low ph field that hasn’t been limed, or a high yielding cow that runs out of silage – an underutilised asset. How can you guard against that outcome on your business?

Its time to unlock that hidden potential within your team.