Chances are, we probably all thought food production would be somewhat protected during these uncertain times. But it turns out that as our volatile markets respond to the emotions and decisions of the marketplace, even the most essential, most necessary industries like Agriculture are being shaken by these forces.
So now what?
Just like our nation’s healthcare professionals, we too push forward.
And like the many generations who farmed your land before you… you shake off the news from yesterday, say a prayer for strength today, and get to work. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s what you do.
When your family and employees turn to you today, they’re seeking and hoping to find strength and comfort. Up until now, you have been one of the main sources of stability in their lives… no pressure, right?!
They may have expected you to have all of the answers in the past when it comes to running the farm, but right now, they know this time it’s different. They know that you don’t know what’s going to happen next. But “your people” still know they can count on you to show up and lead.
And towards that end, here’s how you can help everyone who’s counting on you today…
1. Take a deep breath and clear your head.
Conquering the ‘overwhelmed feeling’ is your first challenge. A quiet, clear head is needed to better serve yourself and everyone on your team… even if that means you have to fake it most days.
Think about the past few years. You’ve been “eating elephants” for awhile now, one bite at a time. Today’s struggles require the same approach. Empty your head onto a list, and remember you can’t accomplish it all at once. Focus on one challenge and cross it off, one thing at a time.
2. Connect as a real person.
As Covid-19 attacks some people’s lungs and takes other people’s lives, its collateral damage to our financial well-being and mental health will likely be its biggest victim. Just as you’re the leader of your dairy, many of your employees are the leaders within their household. While they’re busy at work all day, chances are their loved ones are getting burned out with kids at home and consuming misinformation from the internet.
In the middle of all this noise, take the time to go up to your employees individually and ask them how they’re holding up at the farm and at home. Ask how their families here and “back home” are hanging in there. Assure each person that you’re in this together and that you’ll all get through it. Crack a smile, and thank them for working with you each day to keep your cows eating, resting, and milking.
3. Communicate clearly and realistically.
As Americans, we look to our national leaders to keep us informed in order to make the best decisions for the people we serve. Your employees need to hear your voice right now too.
Reassure your team that their jobs and our industry will remain essential to keeping our nation moving forward right now. But at the same time, be honest about the current financial realities of the commodity markets. Remind them that now more than ever, you need them to follow protocols that keep animals healthy and to pay attention to details that prevent costly mistakes.
As difficult as the days ahead will likely be, the silver lining is that these challenging times can serve as an opportunity to rally your team and grow closer as everyone fights this together.
And that’s the key in all of this… together.
Together we will stumble. Together we’ll get back up. And together we will overcome.
Keep fighting the good fight. We’re in this together.