“You have to get along with people, but you also have to recognize that the strength of a team is different for people with different perspectives and different personalities.” — Steve Case
Anyone who works with farm machinery understands the importance of gears working together to cause movement. The cogs (or the teeth) have to line up to network with other gears. This principle also applies to the farm family business. Understanding the role each person plays is the essence of a successful business. If you are not communicating with each other, working together to move your farm in a profitable direction, then your business is not working as effectively as it can. Each person involved in the farm operation is like a gear which has an important role to fill. When communication bearings are worn, gears spark, igniting a fire. When machinery parts are not working, then the equipment manual is required to understand how to fix any glitches or problems. Let today’s information serve as your manual.
Permit me to switch gears. What we see on the outside of a person is visible ~~ eye colour, hair colour, and skin tone. What we don’t see are the colours on the inside which are invisible ~~ the colours of a person’s personality or temperament. The Personality Dimensions® program is designed to help people understand their behavioral patterns with the use of four descriptive personality colours: Inquiring Green, Authentic Blue, Resourceful Orange, and Organized Gold. If your curiosity has been piqued, you can learn more about the colours here.
Each person is different for a reason. When we work in conjunction with others, we help them fulfill their life’s purpose. Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” I believe this to be true. To have successful relationships, the secret ingredient begins by understanding each other. When you recognize other’s strengths and weaknesses, you will not only understand but appreciate their qualities. Where they have weaknesses, you complement them with your strengths.
A farm business is similar to any work environment – an office, construction site, or factory – people come together to “get the job done” and “to get paid for the work”. Here’s the core of the matter: matching the right person to specific tasks makes “the team” work effectively. Each member’s personality contributes to the family’s accomplishments. By understanding yourself first, you open the door to understanding others. Since you are less likely to be receptive to people who want to change you, the same is true about people you want to change. They will resist your attempts.
Farm succession planning also is met with resistance when personalities clash rather than complement each other. Quite simply, everybody may share the same vision and expect similar results but they see getting the results differently. Ernesto Sirolli speaks about the ingredients for a successful business in his TED Talk, Listen and Shut Up. The three areas in business, which he refers to as the “Management Trinity”, are: producing the goods or services for sale (which is the labour component), marketing the product, and managing the finances. One person is generally skilled in two of the three areas. Being mindful of each family member’s skills will determine who should be responsible for each area. In his book, Ripples from the Zambezi, Mr. Sirolli contemplates the fact that personalities likely are a major influence to the work people love doing.
Personally, I have never met anyone who could produce the product, market it, and manage the finances of the business. Plenty of people try to do it, many do it badly, but nobody I have ever met has been equally passionate and proficient in all three areas.
Often a client will be talented in producing and selling the product, or in producing and organizing the financial bookkeeping. What is very rare is to find someone who is equally passionate about marketing and bookkeeping.
Could it be that we only excel at doing what we love? Could it be that marketing and financial management requires different personalities? Extroverts and introverts? Even discounting psychology, we know that one thing is very clear: successful businesses are always a team effort. Whether it is a husband-and-wife team or a corporate structure, successful businesses are built around peoples’ skills.
The heart of the matter is once you see people’s personalities as colours, you will learn and understand people are created with multiple colours, one being more dominant than the others. The amazing truth is the colour mixture is different for each individual. What I liked about the Personality Dimensions® workshops is being aware of the colours built into individuals. Just like you can build things with blocks of coloured Lego, the people in our lives are pre-built with coloured blocks. If we want to learn more about them, then we have to learn their colour scheme. Although you might not be able to attend an intense Personality Dimension® Workshop, you could set aside ten minutes to take an on-line personality test to learn about your strengths, personal relationships and the career path. If you are interested, click here.
Before scheduling a farm succession plan meeting, you might want to look at your family dynamics to determine how effectively you work together. Do you understand each other’s personalities and how these are in direct correlation to their involvement in the farm business? Once you do, then the task of grinding out the details will be easier. The resources presented in this blog are to provide tools to have the tough conversations. They are the mechanisms to “get the job done”.