Something has happened to your team's performance. It's just not there, either all of a sudden or less noticeable, it's been a slow downhill over time. Have there been signs of turnover, quiet meetings or disgruntled whisperings amongst the group?
If the team is missing something in a big way that's hindering performance, it's likely trust. Almost like a marriage gone sour, once trust is gone it's difficult to regain. A trusting environment is one in which each side feels comfortable with one another and they are confident both are working towards one another's best interest.
When trust is lacking no one is talking, and no one is going the extra mile; the motivation and mood of the team is not there. Even if you mean well, any type of correction or small criticism will make the employees defensive. We as humans have the capacity to perceive messages in different aspects depending on our disposition towards someone. If there is no trust, a quick joke from management will be received as an intended insult to the employees. If the same joke was said when trust was high, most likely the room would be laughing hysterically.
Read more on Farm Futures: How to Spark Better Farm Communication
Few managers are born with inherent talent to build trust, so here are three tips for rebuilding what was lost:
- watch negative language;
- listen better; and
- learn to be a coach
First, watch out for the negative tones, one-line verbal stabs and lectures. You want to be as even keel as possible and be as positive as you can when speaking to employees. It is all in how you ask and how you respond to every situation. They want to be built up, not torn down.
Second, pay attention to how you listen. Are you jumping to conclusions before the employee is finished speaking? Are you really listening to what they are trying to say or are you on to the next item before they are finished?
Employees want to be fully heard and acknowledged. Praising for good suggestions and good thoughts even when ideas are not implemented go a long way. A simple "Matt, I like that you are thinking outside the box, I tried it a few years ago and this is why it didn't work for us, but please keep bringing up those types of ideas." You just won yourself another thinker on the team.
Last, be the best coach you can be. A great coach brings a positive atmosphere and an air about them that states, "I am here to make you better." Ironically, making them better makes your farm better, so it's a win-win for the team.
Even during the busy times, take a few minutes at end of the day and reflect on your interactions with others and work towards building trust on your team.
Also on Farm Futures: Three Reasons Employees Leave Their Jobs