Add Efficiency with Coaching

January 25, 2017 02:19 AM

By Sarah Beth Aubrey

Mother-son team focuses on impact

If you visit Dee River Ranch, you might be inclined to call it a farming Eden with its miles of productive row-crop land. Fields are made green by state-of-the art irrigation and conservation practices. 

It is a tremendous operation. The land has been well cared for, first by the skillful hand of J. Roy Dee Jr. and now with the attentiveness of his daughter, Annie Dee, the farm’s elegant (and powerhouse) overseer. 

Annie farms with several family members including her brother, Mike, and her sons, Jesse and Seth More. She recently received recognition as one of three finalists for the 2016 Top Producer of the Year award. The honor included several benefits, one being a year of CEO coaching from my firm, A.C.T. Aubrey Coaching & Training. 

As with the other finalists, Annie had never worked with an executive coach. She wisely chose to include her son Seth, the farm manager. The opportunity intrigued Annie, though she wasn’t initially convinced a coach would meet her needs. 

“I was uncertain what this might entail,” Annie acknowledges. “I did not know how a coach could help us with our daily, weekly and long-term issues.” 

Yet today, she touts its benefits. “The coach worked with Seth and I to help us work together better and do a better job of communicating and taking time to talk more regularly than we had,” Annie says.

Team Approach. Because their individual roles are different yet intertwined, Annie and Seth spent time together with me via phone and during an on-site visit in June. 

Yet Annie and Seth also completed some exercises independently and then reported back so we could discuss responses as a group. The combination made sense to Annie, who is seeking to grow Seth’s management skills. “My main concern was helping Seth manage people and learn to be a better organizer and communicator at the same time,” she says.

Annie and Seth get along remarkably well for any co-management team, yet time constraints and the reactive nature of farming made new and simple communication techniques an important area to improve their day-to-day interaction. 

Focus On Influence. Although the two are primary managers, Annie is just one member of the large family board that owns the farm. She is particularly considerate with decision-making because not every owner is regularly on-site. “Some of the issues we cannot change have to do with family, the different generations and their issues. The coach helped us accept them and focus on issues that we really can affect.” 

Annie and Seth spent time working on areas where they could make a difference. “We have spent a lot of time talking about some issues on the farm that we cannot change. It has made our time and discussions more efficient,” Annie notes.

She also identified an important difference between traditional consulting work and executive coaching, which seeks to flesh out solutions. “In the past, we have had consultants work with us, but the coach worked more from a high-level overview to see what areas we could affect to make our operation more successful and hopefully less stressful. She has helped us to have a very positive outlook,” Annie says.

In the end, Annie has always known success at Dee River Ranch comes down to how well team members work together toward a common set of goals. “Having the coach has helped Seth and I work together as a team,” she says. “It has given us some comfort in knowing we are accomplishing what we set out to accomplish and ignoring the things we cannot change. It has helped us to have positive attitudes and move forward.”

As a finalist for the Top Producer of the Year award, Annie Dee received CEO coaching with Aubrey Coaching & Training courtesy of Bayer.

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