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Engaging Your Team

In our last newsletter, we talked about trust and freedom was needed to have a fully engaged team.

This time, I’m talking about something that might be seen as a bit more unusual or non-traditional.

I firmly believe that you can give your team too much guidance.

Ok – several of you just ‘cringed’ when I said this. Here are some of your possible thoughts:

If I don't guide them, they won’t know where to go!

If I don’t give them specific guidance, they won’t know if they are successful.

Who will tell them they are succeeding or failing if I don’t give direct guidance?

Guide and Support….but Don’t Overdo It

I learned this idea from a long-term friend. He’s also been involved in the agriculture industry for many years.

At first, he was very ‘hands-on’ with all of his team members. He leads a large team. He wanted them to know that he was engaged.

Over timehe learned that he became a bedrock part of every decision. Within a few

months, it became clear that no one would make even a remotely important decision without

getting his approval.

Involved in Every Decision – That’s good, right?

He did something counterintuitive. He ‘stepped away’ from the everyday ‘running of the business’.

Instead of being more involved, he asked 2 key people to be responsible for key decisions in the day-to-day operation of the business. He asked them to 'step up'.

At first, they were surprised and confused. But, it didn’t take long before they took the responsibility and ran with it.

A couple of weeks later, a perceived ‘crisis’ came. But… the team didn’t panic. They made it through it – without reaching out to the owner…without drawing him into the decision. Not only did they make a good decision….they made a creative decision that they’d never felt the freedom to make before.

Focus on the Most Important

After that, my friend realized he could focus more on what he wanted to do. He could now focus on growing his business and bringing in technology and innovation (his true passions).

The next 2 years were the best years of his business – they had a growth on all fronts.

Plus, many members of his team stayed there for many years. Senior team members were there for over 20 years on average – much more than the industry average.

The Opposite

In a very different example, the opposite happened.

I’ll call him ‘Edward’ for the sake of anonymity.

Edward was important. He knew it…and he made sure everyone else knew it.

Nothing could be done without his approval. He was so important, that he had to be in the middle of every single decision.

What color should the office be painted?

How can we solve a shipping problem for a long-term customer?

Could we transition some ‘inside sales’ people to ‘outside sales’ people?

Can I give a small tip at a donut shop? (Believe it or not, one of his employees was reprimanded for this!)

Edward wouldn’t give up control. He had to be involved in every decision.

And…as a result…he was there from 6 am to 7 pm every day. And – he expected everyone else to be as well.

The problem was…the team was often waiting on Edward. They couldn’t move forward without him.

So – they’d have to wait until he was done with his 75 phone calls and other activities before he'd ‘give approval’ on what the team needed.

It's no surprise to me – Edward’s team has turned over several times in only a few years. The people that stay with him are miserable – and they complain often. The smartest ones just leave. And…then the cycle starts over again.

Give Guidance…but Don’t Overdo it

My suggestion is this:

Train people well, then get out of their way.

Whenever they need something…of course…answer their questions, and support them. But don’t fall into the temptation that they need you for every decision.

As strange as it may sound, this can actually keep a team must more engaged over the long haul.


Engagement Survey

'Want to be proactive in keeping your employees engaged? Thanks to our partnership with Summit SmartFarms, we have a new product to offer. Check out our new Engagement Survey service. We can come to your farm or business and measure a 'baseline' of engagement for you. We can follow up every few months to measure your progress in keeping your team engaged.

Reach out to me today to book your engagement survey at

Bring out the Best in Your Team


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