Small Bites – There’s No “I” in…Team Building with Collaboration on the Farm

Authored by Coaches Polly Shyka and Leslie Forstadt

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and farm and family well-being. They are written by coaches from UMaine Extension’s Farm Coaching team. Farm Coaches are available at no cost to work remotely with farmers and farm teams.

Coaches and leaders the world over aim to cultivate a sense of team spirit, togetherness, cohesion in their teams. Cooperatives work hard to maintain a sense of community and alignment among varying personalities in their teams.

Farmers who are small business leaders, and those in organizing roles in cooperatives may find great benefit in finding ways to intentionally team build. You know how the banks have “Jeans Friday?” Dressing up or dressing down may have no relevance on the farm, as we dress for the work to be done, but there are so many ways to bring people together.

We want the farms as workplaces to be mutually beneficial, not superficially “fun,” but truly places of deep and broad collaboration and commitment.

Leadership and guidance sends clear messages. Here are a few specific ideas that may increase a sense of team vibe and togetherness:

  • All members contribute an item for the morning meeting

  • Tackling difficult tasks all together

  • Rotating roles for a short time to “step into another person’s shoes”

  • Meetings that are short and sweet

  • Sing together as the work is done

  • Look at stats and benchmarks together for creative decision making

  • Make a goal together to improve a specific enterprise or task

  • Share the glory and success

  • Discuss retooling or reorganizing together

  • Signs in the workplace that say WOW, THANK YOU.

  • A nice new speaker for music in the packshed or barn or workshop.

  • Funny cartoons posted at people’s work stations.

  • Celebrating birthdays (Ice cream or ice cream sandwiches are easy treats.)

  • Shared meals during the day and after the work day

The culture of the farm is influenced by the people who are part of it. Your group will come up with its own, of course. Knowing your co-workers is step #1. Small steps to make your workplace fun, interesting and collaborative is ongoing work. Depending on your situation, it can be the foundation upon which the farm is run, and for established farms, it can be an ongoing part of team development.

Ways to work together and celebrate the accomplishments are part of how farm coaches can sit with you and your team. If that sounds helpful, drop us an email and sign up for farm coaching!