How to Communicate with Your Team

by Jordan Steele

RFP School 2021

I think it is safe to say that most ranchers love ranching because they are surrounded by animals more often than people. However, it is critical that ranchers aka business owners know how to communicate with their human team effectively. Before we start, let’s remember two important elements: one is to treat your ranch/farm like a business, and the other is to find a good team of folks and treat them well.  

For the typical Ma and Pa Ranch, your team could be your banker, accountant, and lawyer. Other ranches will have extended/ multi-generational families, shareholders, and employees in the mix too. It can get complicated quickly and pretty soon you might find yourselves carrying the title of Human Resources Manager. Personally I was not born a communication professional (my wife can attest to that), but I strive to gain those critical skills. At our recent Economics Intensive we spent time discussing important aspects of communication. Here are some of my favorite takeaways:

  • Listen to UnderstandOne of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits. It is easy for us to listen just to make a quick response, but it takes practice to listen to truly hear what others are saying.
  • What is said is not always what is heard. Example:
    • Employee tells Boss, “We should do this a different way.”
    • Boss hears, “You have been doing this wrong!”
  • Ask questions instead of making statements.
    • Employee to Boss, “Have you ever thought of doing this another way? Can we try it this way, once?”
    • Remember how nonverbal cues, like tone, can affect the conversation too.
  • Let it soak in and give it time. There is always a fine line with people pushing a topic too hard. People aren’t that much different from livestock; it is very easy to move cattle, if it is wherever they want to go. Make it their idea, and together you can do anything.
  • WWW / WCBB – What Went Well and What Could Be Better. At the Ranching for Profit School, every evening each team writes a list of what went well in class and what could have been better. This is a simple task, which is often overlooked, but can improve communication and resolve minor issues before they frustrate and annoy team members.
  • Group EffectDavid Bahnsen defines this as human flourishing. My paraphrased definition is: economics is not just numbers, it is also the science of improving the individuals behind the business too. Once the team learns how to speak the same language, all individuals will be better off.

Great coaches develop people and improve all people around them, athletes, assistant coaches, and whoever else is working towards the same goal. The same can be said for great ranch business owners; lead when they need to lead, and finish the dirty jobs when they need to be done. If you want to improve your communication skills please join us at a Ranching for Profit School. Our winter schools are almost full, register today to save your seat so you don’t miss out!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s to everyone, please travel safely and enjoy your family and friends!

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