Making The Transition From A Farm Manager To A Farm Coach

Farm management is a career that has grown as a result of mechanisation and the era of mass production. It is now possible for an individual to manage vast areas of land and average farm size has gradually increased over time. The most ambitious farm managers and farm owners often see the number of acres they are managing as a key signifier of their success in the profession.

Conventional wisdom holds that a good farm manager is someone who is an expert in every aspect of their business. They are at least as good, if not better, at every task that needs to happen on the farm. They have a grasp of all of the details of how the farm is run and they pride themselves on being the ones who know the right answer in any situation. Experience gathered over years increases their expertise confidence and security. 

In many ways, there is nothing wrong with this but the most ambitious farmers will take a
different approach in the future.

Dan Sullivan; Founder of Strategic Coach, often says that the skill of coaching will be one of the most important in the future and I am in agreement.

One of the outcomes of the Farm Ambition Blueprint, a new programme launched for farmers by Small Robot Company, will be that participants will shift from thinking of themselves as farm managers to thinking of themselves as Farm Coaches.

I know that many of you reading this will be fully involved in harvest. Harvest is a great time for forgetting about the bigger questions and immersing yourself in the detail of the day to day. There is a certain comfort in being able to narrow your time horizon to the next few hours or the next day, and it is lovely to feel as though you are important and at the centre of the action.

But harvest is also a great time to ask yourself how effective your team building skills are. To what extent is your on farm team reliant on you to work out the answers for them?

The best farmers surround themselves with a team which is empowered to work out the answers for themselves. Rather than telling your team the answers, you will ask your team questions. 

What is the significance of this? 

If you are the one with all of the answers today, you will have to be the one with the answers tomorrow and every day in the future.

If it is only you who knows which store the grain wagon needs to be loaded from, or which field is going to be drilled next, then you have to be involved in the decision. This means that you are not doing something else, you are not thinking about the things which could have a greater impact on your business in the long term.

If you know the answers, and you give those answers to someone else that is a step in the right direction. You made the decision in the first instance, but you then delegated responsibility for implementing that decision to someone else. Even better is when you have empowered someone else to take the decision in the first place, meaning that you don’t have to be involved at all.

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By building a team of people who think for themselves, you create a greater freedom for yourself to work on bigger projects, regardless of what time of year it is.

You create more time for yourself to think about the bigger questions facing your business. Which field needs to be drilled next is, in the scheme of things, a very small question. But there are, I am sure, much bigger questions which can genuinely only be answered by you and which deserve more of your attention.

By empowering others to think for themselves, by thinking of yourself as a coach who enables this change to happen, you give yourself the ability to always elevate yourself to projects which have a greater significance for your future and for the future of your business and you enable yourself to have a greater impact.

The next time you have an interaction with someone who is working with you or for you on the farm, rather than giving them the answer, try to ask them a question which helps them to work out the answer for themselves. You may have to do this dozens of times before you really start having an impact but by taking this approach you are gradually building a team which is able to manage itself and which is less reliant on you.

You will have changed your role from someone who manages others, which is limiting of your time and your potential, to someone who coaches others, which opens up a career of endless possibilities and opportunities for you.
 

If you are interested in developing your own ability to build a team which can manage itself, then consider signing up for the Farm Ambition Blueprint.

Applications close on Friday 5th September, so get in touch with us today to receive an application form: (charlotte@smallrobotcompany.com)