You’re sitting at your desk (or in the tractor) and an email comes in from your boss asking you to form a team for an important project, suddenly you remember all the unorganized projects from high school and college, and you start panicking. Although leading a team can be scary, it can also serve as a great opportunity to gain knowledge and prove your leadership skills in the agriculture industry. Keep reading to learn eight tips to help accomplish your project and manage your team!
Set clear goals and objectives
Communicate the goals with the team and drive home what this project means for not only the company but also each of you. Ensure that each goal/objective is stated (better yet, typed out) so each member understands what is expected. Many times, we tend to focus on the end goal, and we can gloss over the small details, so remember to list out small goals as well. This will help to ensure each goal is completed accurately.
Ask about conflicts
When working on a team, it is important to know if any of the members have any responsibilities that may conflict with the flow of the project. It is better to know at the start instead of finding out throughout the process that a member cannot complete tasks correctly or efficiently due to other reasons. Knowing this at the beginning will allow you to plan for any roadblocks. It will also provide you with the opportunity to inform your boss and you may be able to get an extension or an extra hand.
Set early deadlines
It is common to set deadlines and still have members who aren’t complete with their portion, one way to mitigate this is setting deadlines 1-3 days before the actual due date. This will provide more time for any members who are struggling and thus you or other teammates can assist them. It will also give you time to proof your project to ensure accuracy.
Sometimes, we’re lucky enough to be in teams with coworkers who we are familiar or even friends with, and other times, not so much. Celebrate different opinions and allow there to be an “open-door policy” in which everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves in a respectful manner.
Being micromanaged by a superior can feel a bit suffocating and can lead to feeling inadequate. When leading a team, establish daily or weekly team status updates/reports to gauge where each member stands regarding their tasks. Having scheduled check-ins is a much better way to manage a team as opposed to constantly calling or emailing individual members. Doing so can leave your members feeling untrusted or incapable of completing their tasks.
Assign roles strategically
Decide on the necessary roles needed to accomplish the project and write what the expectations for each role are. Then, take time to piece your team together according to everyone’s strengths and skills. Analyze each member’s previous work and decide who will be best suited for each role. You can also speak to each member as well, ask them about their strengths and weaknesses and how they feel about doing certain tasks. Setting the time aside to delegate the roles will allow for a stronger and efficient team.
Schedule mental health check-ins
Throughout the process there will be high and low moments, it’s impossible to always head in a forward direction because exhaustion and burn-out are real things. Schedule time to ask how your team is doing emotionally and plan team outings to take a break from work. Understand that although the project is a top priority so is the mental health of your team, remember to be kind and compassionate.
Although each team member has their own role and tasks, many tasks can overlap and may need knowledge from other members. Encourage your team to share information with one another. You can have each team member state what their skills are, so they know who to reach out to if they have a question or need some help.
Leading a team is no easy feat, but it allows you to prove your skills and ability to take charge of your projects. Learning to delegate tasks, manage a team, and set goals/deadlines can take years to master, but these tips can help to ease yourself into your newfound leadership role in the agriculture industry. Remember to use this opportunity to gain knowledge and even learn about yourself and your strengths and weaknesses.
By Deanna Solis