It takes a team
Teamwork. We read and talk about it all the time. But what is the true meaning of teamwork and why do we talk about it so much?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines teamwork as “the combined actions of a group of people working together effectively to achieve a goal.” Whether you notice it or not, you use teamwork every day on your farm, ranch or in other business pursuits.
Being raised as a “farm kid,” teamwork was an ethic instilled in my brain. Whether it was prepping equipment for the upcoming planting season, moving and working cattle, or feeding a hungry harvest crew, it always took a team.
So, why is teamwork important in agriculture? My answer can be summed up in one word: success. We all want to run a successful farm or ranch. However, we all know it takes a well-oiled machine to get the job done successfully.
No matter the situation, it really does take a team.
I was recently reminded of the importance of teamwork while chopping corn silage (livestock feed) on our own farm and ranch. This major undertaking wouldn’t have been possible without a well-oiled team. Running a chopper, two pile tractors, three trucks and all the moving pieces in-between wasn’t a small feat. Working as a team requires collaboration.
This teamwork was so much more than driving a tractor or truck, though. Many hours, days and months went into planning a successful silage harvest. Decisions were made before the chopper hit the field. Months before, we planted the corn, made sure it had the proper nutrients to grow, and checked moisture levels prior to chopping. Weeks before, we prepped the feedlot, made a bunker to hold the silage and lined up the chopping crew. Days before, we went grocery shopping to feed the crew and finalized our plan.
It was a lot of work.
While reflecting on the teamwork it took to chop corn silage, I came up with three skills that, in my opinion, are crucial to running a successful farm or ranch.
This is a hard one. Farmers and ranchers are usually the first to admit communication isn’t their strong point. Keeping everyone on the same page can be difficult.
Holding regular meetings to develop open lines of communication can be helpful. If the entire crew is involved in brainstorming ideas and offerings solutions, it can provide a sense of togetherness and help develop shared goals. It is also important to share thoughts and feelings with other people. According to South Dakota State University Extension, social support has been found to decrease symptoms of depression. Go into town for coffee, engage in a hobby, or talk to a friend or family member.
No two days are the same when farming and ranching. That’s why being flexible is so important. Being flexible means adjusting to short-term change quickly and calmly to deal with the unexpected. However, this is easier said than done.
Having a plan can help, but having multiple plans is where flexibility comes into play. Always come to the table with a Plan A, B and C. When something doesn’t go as planned, it’s good to have options. Being able to choose from multiple plans on a farm and ranch helps allocate resources, prepare for uncertainty and manage time effectively.
Farmers and ranchers are often referred to as eternal optimists. This means always looking on the bright side and having hope, no matter what obstacles might stand in the way. It takes a whole lot of passion to be an eternal optimist.
This is one characteristic farmers and ranchers don’t lack but can sometimes struggle with. It takes passion to wake up every morning and face the unknowns of Mother Nature, the economy and life in general. If passion is lacking, find it. Passion comes from the heart, not the head.
Connect with it.
I hope this sheds some light on the importance of teamwork, especially when it comes to farming and ranching. These same principles can also be applied to running a small business, organization or even a county Farm Bureau.
No matter the situation, it really does take a team. Think about how communication, flexibility and passion can all be used to achieve your goals.
Overby is a Northeast field representative with North Dakota Farm Bureau. This column was originally published by NDFB and is republished with permission.