Effective ways to create a positive team culture on-farm
12 October 2023
Nuffield Scholar, leadership coach and consultant Tammy Kruckow (pictured) knows a thing or two about leadership.
The 15 years she spent leading teams on northern pastoral properties – plus another six in recruitment and training – set her in good stead for her current role coaching others on how to make the most of their teams and, importantly, become leaders that people want to work for.
Her MLA Profitable Grazing Systems (PGS) course, ‘Lead with Certainty’, does just that, with each participant gaining valuable insights into who they want to be as a leader and how their personality and communication style meshes with those of their team members.
During her time in the northern pastoral industry, Tammy often witnessed leadership styles which were the result of a lack of training and a tendency to stick with traditional approaches.
“If we don’t know any better, we tend to lead like the leaders before us – and a lot of leaders weren’t given leadership skills, which has a flow-on effect such as burn-out and poor staff retention,” she said.
“Upskilling your team to have a good mindset, self-awareness and awareness of others before they enter leadership positions will set them up for success, not only in the workplace but for life in general.”
Thinking above the line
Tammy introduces the PGS course participants to the concept of thinking ‘above and below the line’.
“Thinking below the line is our unresourceful thinking, for example when we are in blame, denial and making excuses,” she said.
“Above the line thinking is our resourceful thinking which includes taking ownership and responsibility and being accountable.”
Tammy believes 80% of success is mindset.
“The mindset of your team can make or break your business. Sometimes it only takes one person to be below the line to bring your whole team culture down, causing a flow-on effect of teams being unproductive and even causing an increase in workplace incidents.”
Finding the right fit
When it comes to hiring staff, the remoteness of the northern beef industry presents a challenge as most interviews are online or over the phone. This can make it hard to get to know the people you’re hiring.
Tammy’s recruitment tips include:
- start with a good mindset
- be well prepared – have a written position description
- know the skills and character traits you require
- use good quality questions which aren’t only skill-based.
Focusing solely on practical skills can be a missed opportunity.
“Ask what motivates them – have a chat, so you get a general idea of who they are and their background. This will help you read between the lines and know whether they’d be a good fit,” Tammy said.
Creating workplaces where people feel valued, respected and have a clear career path can increase staff retention and ultimately, business productivity.
Part of this is also recognising the industry’s generation gap, and that older and younger team members like to lead, and be led, differently.
“The more awareness and acceptance we have for everyone around us, the better we can work together,” Tammy said.
Key to being a great leader is knowing leadership isn’t a ‘sometimes affair’ – you can’t turn it on and off as you please.
“There’s a lot of pressure on leaders in the northern beef industry. Not only are they looking after a large cattle enterprise, they generally have large teams to lead as well.
“When we have inexperienced leaders who aren’t equipped with a good mindset and self-awareness, decisions are often reactive instead of proactive, which can cause a lot of uncertainty in the team,” Tammy said.
An effective leader:
- communicates clearly and calmly
- listens to hear and not only to respond
- is empathetic and emotionally fit
- is self-aware.
Profitable Grazing Systems (PGS)
PGS takes small groups of like-minded producers who want to improve their whole-farm performance and matches them with a deliverer who builds their knowledge, skills and experience through hands-on training.
Find out more at mla.com.au/pgs
Lead with Certainty PGS
- undertake DISC personality profiling and understand how this informs their leadership style
- assess their team culture and its strengths and weaknesses
- identify their values and goals.
The course can be tailored to a range of participants, including farm owners and managers as well as more junior leadership roles in a pastoral business.