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Building Sustainable Teams

When you hear or see the word sustainable, you usually automatically think of the environment. But have you ever thought of sustainability in the workplace? Workplace sustainability can help entrench factors such as company vision and purpose, recruitment, employee code of conduct, training, development and involvement and engagement into employees of your business so that your business is able to be sustainable, or ‘future-fit’.

Alignment of a business’s vision and purpose is a great first step in creating team sustainability in a number of ways. They help define performance standards and they motivate employees to be more productive by offering focus and common goals. This will generate a committed, loyal and productive employee because they will have a sense of shared ownership of the organisation.

- Look at people’s strengths and play to them.

- Try not to divert people away from what they are good at. Everyone doesn’t need to be good at everything.

- Aligning activities with someone’s strengths and talents can actually reduce energy decline.

- Use employee’s strengths to help both employee and employer move towards achieving common goals.

- People do what they love, and love what they do. By playing to their strengths, you are working with them, not against them.

Albert Einstein once said that if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking it is stupid.

Building on strengths will allow the weaknesses to take care of themselves.

Work/life balance is so important and in today’s farming world it is becoming more and more recognised as a highly important aspect. When someone suffers an imbalance between work and life, it affects them both physiologically and psychologically. You want your employees to be able to achieve in their career and enjoy their career. Ensure they reflect on the joy of the job.

No matter how healthy individual employees are when they begin work, if you are running a dysfunctional system, then it’s only a matter of time before that employee burns out. When you are doing something on farm, whether it’s a farm management task or a human resource task, ask yourself whether it is something you could continue to do every day or every week for the foreseeable future. If you can’t, then you need to consider adjusting your systems and procedures so that it is more sustainable. Use farm rosters for example. Can you get up every day at 4am for the next week or next fortnight or next month and still maintain the same high standard demanded? The answer is probably not. So options are rotation of staff so 4am starts don’t happen every day, bringing in more staff to lessen the workload or change the way you are doing the task like procedures to reduce milking times, pasture management so cows aren’t so far from the shed in the mornings or adjust staff working hours so they can start at 4am but knock off earlier.

Diversity is the key to sustainability. Make your teams diversity a competitive advantage. Value the differences within your team members and use those differences to enhance creativity and empowerment. Respecting employees individual strengths will generate a diverse and inclusive environment promoting skilled and motivated people working together. By doing this you are maximising the benefits created from a diverse workforce.

Motivated and empowered people equal a sustainable team which equals a sustainable business. It’s a win win.

Born, bred and residing in Southland, I am a Variable Order sharemilker of 600 cows alongside my husband Craig. I am a mum to Sienna, 6 and Carter, 4.

I am currently completing the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme. I also help administrate the Farming Mums NZ Facebook and Instagram page.

We recognise that to achieve our goals requires a sustainable and effective team beside us

Millennium Farming

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