Business Meetings on the Farm? Really?
YES! Really. Why? Short answer is that you are running a business. For the longer answer and benefits of planned business meetings, keep reading.
Communication: I think everyone has experienced the frustration of unmet expectations and differing perceptions. “Why can’t everyone just think like I do?” “They should know what to do without being told.” “Can’t they just look around and see what needs to be done?” “I told him/her last week that we would have to pay that bill and now we are overdrawn.” Communication breakdown happens everywhere on the farm from the office to the shop to the field to the barn. Those on the farm/ranch team REQUIRE regular communication to keep the ship above water and on course.
Efficiency: One common phrase I hear when I’m working with farmers or farm families is “I never know where he is or what he’s doing”. All ag production operations need to run efficiently to survive in light of all the uncontrollables. When inefficiencies exist, time is wasted, money is wasted, and emotions tend to run high.
Roles: Does the farm team find themselves tripping over each other not knowing who is supposed to be doing what or when? Often family members and/or employees don’t have a clear understanding of their role and duties on the operation. This leads to frustration on their part and inefficiency in the operation as well as overwhelm for the primary operator trying to keep it all together.
Farm/Ranch Business Meetings are a tool to improve communication, increase efficiency and clarify roles and duties. There are really two levels of business meetings: one for the owners/operators to make sure they are on the same page with the overall operation of the business including strategic plans and the other is for the team who works together managing day to day operations on the farm.
When asked about how often to have team meetings, my answer is it really depends on your operation and how many people are involved. The more people, the greater the need for increased communication. As a rule, weekly team meetings and quarterly owner/operator meetings can be effective. However if your operation is really dynamic with a lot of moving parts you may need to touch base daily even if only for a few minutes.
The next question I’m asked is what to include on the agenda. An agenda? YES! Make an agenda! It helps the team stay focused. AND someone should take notes during the meeting so you can refer back on decisions and discussion (because I guarantee not everyone will remember it the same way). Below you will find a template for a business meeting. This can be used as a guide but should be personalized for your operation.
Business meetings are KEY on a farm/ranch operation to keep everyone on the same page. Even if it is just you and your spouse, do the meeting! You will be glad you did.
Weekly Business Meeting
June 11, 2020
1. Additions to agenda
2. Updates from last week action items
3. Current action items for this week
i. Repair barn door
ii. Fix fencing around south pasture
iii. Change teeth on chisel plow
i. Moving cattle from south pasture to east side
ii. Cutting hay on north 40
4. Employee Issues
a. Advertised positions
b. New hires
d. Discipline issues
a. Upcoming meetings
i. Banker meeting 6/25
b. Upcoming payments
i. Quarterly tax payment
ii. John Deere payment
6. Review and update strategic plan