Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Meeting the great expectations

Great dairy farms are built on great people but too often we hear of employment relationships that have gone bad leaving disappointed (and sometimes disillusioned) employers and employees. Successful employment relationships don’t just happen – they require planning and thought during the recruitment phase, and then regular attention and action for the length of the employment.

One of the best tips for a successful relationship is to ensure that you and your future employee have matching expectations before employment starts. That means discussing and understanding the role, the farm, expected behaviour and standards, the challenges and the opportunities. It also means being clear about what you are offering from the obvious things like pay, accommodation and rosters to training, management style, involvement in farm planning and team meetings.

While matching your expectations does take some time this is less than repeating the recruitment process and increases the chances of getting the right person for your team.

Matching expectations means you and your employee have thought about the good, the bad and the ugly of each other, the farm and the role in which they are about to start work. It gives you a great platform to work from and increases the chance of you both being satisfied with your employment relationship.

Step by step:

  • Know what you expect from your future employee. This means having a clear job description but just as importantly it means knowing what behaviour and attitudes you expect on farm.
  • Think about the challenges and opportunities that exist on your farm.
  • Decide what you are offering as an employment package from pay through to training. Think also about the working environment you provide on farm.
  • Run your expectations about the job and what you are offering in return through a reality check. You might be able to do this yourself or you might need to bounce ideas off another person.
  • Use this planning to help you create your job advertisement. Try to make it stand out – sell the positive aspects of your role whilst being realistic about the rest. This will enable potential applicants to self-select in or out of applying.
  • During the interview phase discuss your expectations openly and honestly with applicants and in particular your preferred applicant. Make sure you listen equally openly to what they want from you. Think about whether this is something you can provide.
  • Ensure you only promise things you actually can deliver.
  • Once your new employee has started ensure you deliver what you promised.

People are the greatest asset on dairy farms and anything to encourage good working relationships helps make farms more productive and enjoyable. Matching expectations with future employees means both parties know what they are signing up to, dramatically increasing chances of getting the right person who will perform and succeed, and be happy doing it.

For more information visit, an online people-management resource, designed specifically for New Zealand dairy farmers. Try the two DairyNZ QuickStart kits which can be ordered at or by phoning 0800 4 DAIRYNZ (0800 4324 7969). One is for recruitment and orientation and the other the People Productivity Kit which is all about managing people once they’re on-farm.

Jane Muir is DairyNZ’s developer, people and this is the second in a six-part series on staff management issues.

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