Words by: Keely Sullivan

We are approaching the start of a new season, where many of you will be getting new staff members or changing farms. This can be a busy time of the year, but it is also a good time to reflect and celebrate what has gone well over the past 12 months and consider what could go better.

Over the past year, we at DairyNZ have been running the Good Boss campaign. We know that most dairy farmers are good employers, something we think is worth celebrating.

I may not be a boss myself but, as an employee, having a good boss completely changes how you feel about the job. It can make you more engaged, willing and loyal, even during the busy times of the year.

Being a good boss doesn’t require big changes to how you manage your team, because there are lots of little things that can make a big difference to attitude and morale. For me, the key to being a good boss is excellent two-way communication between you and your employee. It makes a big difference when I feel listened to and appreciated by my boss. This can be done in a few ways.

One of these is to have regular catch-ups with each team member. When you get busy it can be easy to push these to the side, to finish other tasks around the farm. These meetings don’t have to be formal – you can take a farm walk or cups on alongside your staff and catch-up one-to-one at the same time. Having regular team meetings is also important because it keeps everyone up to date. Discuss what is happening around the farm and any issues, but don’t forget to chat about things outside of work too. Knowing your staff members’ interests can be great conversation starters or give you insights into what they enjoy.

Opening the lines of communication can help boost engagement and result in an increase in performance. It can also help you understand how team members can be helped, including training and development.

Go online and compare yourself, or your boss, with the top behaviours of successful farm bosses at dairynz.co.nz/goodboss

  • Keely Sullivan is a DairyNZ consulting officer for West Otago/Gore.