I’ve been thinking a lot about teams lately. Not sports teams, but the kind of teams we use to keep Country Guide in the black, and the teams you’re using more often in farming, whether you call them that or not.
I increasingly think there’s no greater proof of how rapidly the Canadian farm is evolving than in the number and the professionalism of the teams that help drive it.
Don’t believe it? Well, just compare how you make decisions today against 20 years ago.
It’s true even on farms where a quick glance from the outside might suggest it’s a one-person or a one-family operation.
Of course, as I’ve suggested, we don’t usually call them teams. Nor do we always think of them in those terms, although those are exactly the words that other business sectors would use to describe what we do.
I mention this now because, starting with our December 2017 issue, you will see us focusing even more on leadership and on teams in the winter ahead.
If that sounds dull, I partly sympathize, but let me assure you, we won’t be filling the magazine with HR psycho-babble. We won’t all have to wear colour-co-ordinated T-shirts, and there won’t be any campfires and kumbayas.
It turns out that team building is as rock hard a concept as anything else in farming, and our job will be to portray it in just that light.
It’s science, exactly the same way as what you do in the field and the barn is science, and it gets tested in the same way too. Does it work? Does it pay?
It makes me remember that when we first took Country Guide in its business direction, we were warned we’d be making ourselves irrelevant in the real world of farming.
What our critics didn’t realize is that we weren’t leading. Our readers were already there, making decisions about the best business strategies and structures to move them toward their goals.
The same is true of teams. You’ll see it countless times as you read your way through our December issue.
There are complexities, of course. Teams are fragile — for instance, nothing is deadlier for a team than not supporting each other in front of the outside world — but teams also thrive in high performance conditions.
On the farm too, there’s the extra challenge of building teams with family members, with expert professionals, with farm employees, with suppliers and so many others.
The thing is, at our core, Country Guide believes that farmers are great decision makers who excel at decision making because they have such a clear vision of themselves as individuals, and of what the farm means to them.
The same is true of their team management. But how do you know you’re being supported by as high a level of performance from your teams as you demand from yourself?
Stay tuned, and let me know if we’re getting it right. I’m at [email protected].