How to Lead Your Farm in Uncertain Times

12:21PM Apr 09, 2020
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Step up, overcommunicate and solve problems during a crisis.
( Top Producer )

Step up, overcommunicate and solve problems

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted just about every facet of daily life. It’s caused market volatility, fear, uncertainty and fatigue for you and your team. As your farm’s leader, this may be the greatest opportunity of your lifetime.

“Teams are never as tight, engaged, energized and focused as when they are working against a common enemy,” says Mark Faust, business author and president of Echelon Management.
“You’ve seen it in world championship sports, disaster response teams and war.”

Leaders know people need them the most during a crisis. “Great leaders step up to control the reactions, reduce uncertainty and solve problems,” Faust says.

Time to Talk
In turbulent times, Faust says, you need to increase the frequency and intensity of communication with your team. This is especially important if your is spread out, with some working from home or keeping new schedules. 

Do you have a way to get information quickly to everyone involved in the farm? “The military uses recall rosters and telephone trees,” says Mary Kelly, CEO of Productive Leaders and a 20-year veteran of the Navy. 

For your team, consider an email list, group text message or private social media group. Determine a way to hold briefings, Kelly suggests, whether in person or an online teleconference. 

“The time to create a business communication plan is before the crisis, not during,” Kelly says. “Communication methods are only effective if they are already in place and people know where to go to learn more.”

When communicating to your employees or others, Kelly says:

  • Be specific.
  • Stick to the facts.
  • Be honest. 
  • Be timely.

“You want to have a way for people to ask questions and get reliable answers,” she says.

Be realistic and optimistic with your team, Faust adds. “The pattern is clear, good leaders stand before their flock and speak words of hope, give relevant words of strategy, and direct toward new action.”


5 Steps to Tackle A Crisis

Whether you are facing a pandemic like COVID-19, a natural disaster or other business-disrupting emergency, you need a plan. Mary Kelly, CEO of Productive Leaders, suggests taking these steps.

  1. Acknowledge the problem. Make sure you, as the person in charge, understand the issues and the true nature of the crisis.
  2. Articulate the possible courses of action and potential outcomes so everyone understands what is at stake. Ask the “what if?” questions and get factual answers.
  3. Calmly figure out your strategy with your team. Ask for input. Map out what you need to do. Look at your policies. Have you already planned for this situation? 
  4. Keep your family and team informed. Provide information as soon as it is available. People crave information during times of uncertainty. 
  5. Implement your crisis communication action plan, which includes how to share information if normal channels are disrupted. 


To read the latest news, market impacts and more from COVID-19, visit AgWeb.com/coronavirus