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Developing and maintaining professional communication

MLA & AWI July 5, 2024

The key to every successful business is effective communication. It underpins the efficient transfer of information and knowledge, the development of positive relationships and the creation of a productive work environment.  

Improving communication can have positive and lasting benefits for work, family relationships and business performance.  Strong communication ensures the whole team knows and understands: 

  • the business vision (outlined in Topic 2 in MMFS Module 1 Plan for success) 
  • the current business position and short-term goals and expectations (outlined in Topic 1 in MMFS Module 1 Plan for success) 
  • their role within the business and it’s connection to the overall game plan 
  • the way the business operates and the work expectations, which are typically communicated via policies and procedures (outlined in Topic 6).  

Communication is essential to a successful workplace culture as solid communication ensures everyone understands what is expected of them and how they can contribute to the business strategy and goals.  

One challenge with communication is that we each have different expectations. It is common for farming team members to say there is a communication issue. This comment needs to be unpacked to explore what is meant by this and how the gaps can be filled. Often such challenges are easily solved by providing an update on the short and long-term plans or a brief team meeting.  

Principles to improve communication

  • Be aware there is a range of communication styles. It is often the way in which a message is delivered that creates a blockage or barrier, not the message itself. 
  • Analyse yourself before you analyse others. Understand why difficulties arise. Be honest, logical, clear in your dialogue and if something is not working, try something new or different to reach a consensus. 
  • Plan and monitor strategies for improving communication and relationships. Be positive and proactive. When faced with a difficult situation don’t follow a path of evasion, avoidance, frustration and anger. 
  • Always work towards creating a win-win situation where there are gains or benefits for both sides. 
  • Remember we are all ‘difficult people’ to someone, so monitor your own behaviour and make changes where necessary. 

One reminder many leaders can benefit from is not to assume. We have probably all heard the quote “Don’t assume, because when you do you make an ASS of U and ME”. When we assume, our team might misunderstand our message, or we overestimate their understanding of the task. This results in disappointment when the standard you expected has not been met.  

Developing a communication plan

Communication plans outline the different stakeholders within a business, the types of messages relayed and the methods, frequency and format for communicating. Communication on farms can take various forms, including written, verbal and digital (videos or apps, such as WhatsApp). Tool 4.2 provides a template for auditing current communication methods and then setting actions for improvement.  


Daily (or weekly) toolbox meetings are an excellent communication tool. These meetings provide a great opportunity to facilitate the two-way sharing of operational information.  An example agenda could be: 

  • Successes from the previous day or week. 
  • Plans for today and the rest of the week (who is doing what and who needs a hand to get their job done).
  • Safety risks or hazards associated with upcoming tasks.  

These meetings may only be 5–10 minutes long, but are a great tool to share information and ensure effective communication. When they become part of a regular routine, meetings speed up as the team knows what gets discussed and what they need to raise. In saying that, it is important to brief new staff members and run a full meeting at first so they know how the toolbox meeting operates.  

Quarterly meetings can be held to review and communicate operational plans. These are bigger-picture meetings than the weekly or daily toolbox meetings. These meetings might cover: 

  • recent achievements (e.g. weaning percentage, sale prices, a safety risk identified and mitigated or the team working well together to complete a big job) 
  • operational game plan for the next three months (e.g. prepare for shearing)  
  • upcoming training opportunities (team members can report back on training they attended) 
  • planned holidays 
  • safety issues to note.