Farming with the family has its challenges. Don’t let poor communication be one of them!
One of the indicators of success for any agriculture business is effective family communication. Effective internal communication among family members, farm managers, and staff is a vital part of decision-making and family unity. Enhancing communication within a family farm will positively impact the operation’s success.
On the farm, we tend to see each other frequently, so a good deal of our communication is verbal. Verbal communication about the affairs of the farm plays an important and relevant role, but written communication cannot be overlooked. The use of standard operating procedures, business plans, and other types of written internal communication within a family farm works to ensure that all owners and managers are on the same page regarding major decisions as well as day-to-day operations. Your family and farm can avoid the “he said/she said” scenario, which occurs with closely owned farms, by having information in written form.
Two Types of Meetings
Casual or informal communication that includes farm discussions is commonplace on most family farms. These discussions should not be allowed to take the place of regular meetings. Family farms today require the same focused meetings as any other multi-million dollar-generating business. These defined and regularly scheduled meetings focus on, promote discussion of, and resolve issues important to the operation.
And, for Pete’s sake, get together once a week and eat dinner as a family. Informal communication is also important to your farm and family for many reasons. I have too many mothers telling me they want time set aside for family members to come away from the day-to-day worries of the farm and be present physically and mentally at family dinner. Don’t forget the importance of family members relaxing together, sharing informally, and reinforcing the relationships of trust and respect that form the foundation of your family farm business!
Technology for Quick Turn Around
A family farm is well served by taking advantage of available technology for scheduling, managing, and relating crucial information. You don’t always have to wait to discuss an issue in person. Send an email or text to ensure information is conveyed timely, especially if decisions need to be made promptly.
Internal communication on a family farm can get sticky, but regular family or owner meetings help to ensure the appropriate information gets communicated. Develop simple meeting guidelines that keep everyone’s ego in check. Guidelines should include coming prepared, listening before making snap judgments, and setting objectives with a timetable of next steps. These kinds of guidelines work to ensure that all key people in the business are included in management and decision making while allowing decisions to be made in a timely manner.
Having your family on the farm, working with them, and watching them grow with you is a rich and fulfilling experience. Develop the communication skills needed in today’s farming culture to avoid misunderstanding and heartache. Being proactive in establishing guidelines for your team’s written and verbal communication could make all the difference for your family and help all team members to achieve their personal and business objectives.
Ongoing communication is key to the success of your farm. Written communication, regular meetings, technology, and setting guidelines will all help in keeping the communication lines open. Now that you’re a pro on communication on your farm, read one of our recent blogs titled “How to Successfully Communicate with Your Agronomist.”
If you would like more information about improving communication on your farm, look to FamilyFarms Group for help. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of our Free Resources to gain more insider knowledge for improving your farm in every area: