As a trainer, I see a lot of farm advisors with excellent knowledge. Vets who know everything about health, feed advisors who can feed the perfect ration and barn designers who can design for the best work efficiency and cow flow. What sets apart the good from the great however, has nothing to do with cow knowledge. It has everything to do with the right people skills.
I often get these remarks from advisors:
- I’m giving the farmer the solution to his problem, but he just doesn’t take my advice.
- Farmers don’t want to listen to advice.
- Every time I try to help a farmer, we seem to get in the same discussion again and nothing ever changes.
The first thing I hear in these remarks, is the willingness of these advisors to really help farmers. That’s a quality that I always admire. Sometimes farmers tell me they have the feeling that advisors aren’t really there to help them and I don’t believe that to be true at all. At least not for the majority of advisors. However, I also don’t believe it to be true that farmers don’t want to take advice. What I really read into these kind of situations is an inability to really connect with the farmers.
The most important question is: why does the farmer not take the advice? From experience I know there’s a lot that can be going on beneath the surface. Maybe the farmer doesn’t have the money or doesn’t see the return on investment yet. He could also feel like he can’t do it or he could not understand what you’d like to do but is afraid to ask. It’s not always easy to find out what is really going on. A great advisor however can create a safe environment, ask the right questions and formulate a plan of action together with the farmer.
Being great at people skills is not something that comes naturally, at least not for most people. It’s a skill that you have to develop and sharpen every day. It’s also a skill that can be taught. You can learn to look at body language and recognize all the people signals. You can also learn how to ask the right questions, become a partner and give the farmer the feeling of control.
If advisors - and with advisors I mean vets, feed advisors, barn designers, inseminators, basically anyone who comes on a farm regularly – if they invest in their people skills, there is a lot to gain. First of all, I believe they’ get a lot more job satisfaction. They will be able to build sustainable relationships with clients and can help them growth. There will also be a lot to gain for farmers and cows, if advisors are able to help solve the problems beneath the surface. In short, it will be a win-win-win situation for advisors, farmers and cows.
Our course PeopleSignals is all about becoming a great facilitator and advisor. We teach you to read body language and ask the right questions. People who are trained with us can help farmers as a partner to make sustainable changes.
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March 6-9, 2018
June 5-8, 2018
Open day training PeopleSignals
Learn to read body language, ask the right questions and help farmers as a partner to improve.
June 22, 2018
PeopleSignals Training with vets from Hipra.
Funny exercise: how can you make a big mess out of it?
What do you believe are the most important people skills? Please share your thoughts below!