“When things go crazy, what do you do? Does your team come together or fall apart?”
Michael Hoffman asked those questions during his presentation at the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin’s (PDPW) annual business conference. Hoffman is the founder and owner of Igniting Performance Inc.
In his discussion about building strong teams, Hoffman spent some time talking specifically about the current global health pandemic we are all facing. He explained that people make decisions with both logic and emotion, but many people’s emotions are heightened right now.
By openly listening to people’s concerns, we can address their fears and proactively help them. As a leader, Hoffman emphasized the need to enhance your listening skills. This is true whether you are leading your family team, your farm’s employees, or your co-workers.
“A culture that survives and does very well is a culture that pays attention to each other,” he said. “Pay attention to people and their needs and let them talk. I am going to encourage you to behave very differently, to be more ‘them’ focused. We need people to rise and be outward focused.”
Hoffman reminded the audience that when communicating, actions speak louder than words. He said to show empathy in your face and your body language. “Our emotions (or non-emotions) are on our sleeve,” he stated. “Pay attention to how you are coming across.”
People make it possible
There are many unknowns right now, but there is no doubt that agriculture is a critical industry, and farming, processing, and distribution must continue. At the heart of those operations are the humans who work day in and day out to provide food to consumers, even in times of stress and uncertainty. Of course, this is not an easy task.
“A family is messy, so is farming,” Hoffman said. “What you do or say creates that team.” Hoffman encouraged team leaders to use this unprecedented time in history to strengthen both their family and farm teams and create a culture that works better under pressure.
“Great teams have great traditions,” he said. “Those traditions are built over time, and over times of crisis. During this particular crisis, this is the time to build traditions.”