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Managing a happy and efficient team

MLA & AWI July 5, 2024

Managing people is a key skill required in most businesses. The challenge for many managers and business owners is they have found themselves with a handful of employees after a few years of organic business growth, often resulting in a gap in the systems and processes to manage people and the leadership skills required to foster a great culture.  

These two components of management can be grouped as ‘head’ and ‘heart’.  

The ‘head’ areas that need to be developed are connected to operations. These include roles and responsibilities (Topic 3), remuneration, induction, policies, safety and recruitment.  

The ‘heart’ areas that need to be developed are connected to culture (Topic 1). These include communication, value, growth, leadership, safety, mentoring and professional development.  

Taking time to develop and manage a happy and efficient team is paramount to business success. Without investing in the team, future goals and strategy may be hard to implement. It is important to manage and lead the whole team in the same manner. This means family labour is treated the same way as non-family labour.  

Rather than assuming what employees like about working for the business, gaining insights and feedback from employees and understanding what they value in the business is key to understanding what they are offered — this can be collated into an employee value proposition (EVP).  An EVP is a succinct summary of the benefits and rewards employees receive from working in a business.  

Managing and leading a team

Operational (head) aspects of people management include areas such as: 

  • recruitment  
  • induction (Topic 5) 
  • job descriptions (Topic 3) 
  • organisation structure (Topic 3) 
  • performance management (Topic 3) 
  • communication (Topic 2) 
  • reporting  
  • payroll and remuneration (Topic 3) 
  • FairWork and Pastoral Award (Topic 5) 
  • contracts  
  • safety (Topic 5) 
  • policies and procedures 
  • record keeping  
  • training (Topic 4). 

Cultural (heart) aspects of leading a team include areas such as: 

  • mentoring (Topic 7 in MMFS Module 1 Plan for Success) 
  • culture (Topic 1) 
  • management succession (Topic 7 in MMFS Module 1 Plan for Success) 
  • employee value proposition (EVP) 
  • communication (Topic 2 
  • leadership  
  • growth and career development (Topic 4) 
  • safety (Topic 5). 

All these aspects of management are connected by communication (Topic 2) as well as the vision (tool 1.4 in MMFS Module 1 Plan for success) and culture of a business (chapter 4.1)The business manager’s role is to guide the team to achieve the vision in a cohesive and efficient team environment.  

Policies and procedures

Policies and procedures are important to develop as a team grows. They are directly related to consistency, compliance, and communication.  

Policies are used to communicate the business rules. They exist for areas such as safety, children on farm, use of vehicles, leave, firearms, codes of conduct, working outdoors, animal welfare, biosecurity, etc. Each business will build their own policies that reflect the way things operate in their workplace. Policies provide a framework to assist in facilitating a compliant and consistent workplace.  

Procedures outline the steps to follow when undertaking a task. These are detailed, step-by-step documents that describe the process required to undertake a task safely, efficiently and to the required standard. Examples include loading livestock, installing a solar pump, shearing preparation, preparation for pregnancy scanning sheep, management of sheep after pregnancy scanning, lamb marking, spraying pastures, or baling hay. 

Tool 4.6 provides a shearing induction checklist, which is an example of a procedure.  

Procedures can save time on infrequent tasks. They also download the experience from more experienced members of the business, which is great for succession planning.  

Policies and procedures do not need to be lengthy; a few dot points are usually adequate. Some businesses use technology, such as videos or QR codes, to capture their procedures.  

When employees know the standard expected of them, they will either lift to that standard, or it provides an opportunity to work with them to identify how they can be supported to meet the standard.