LEADING New Zealand based human resources consultant Lee Astridge addressed one of the fundamental challenges for all dairy businesses at last week’s DairySA Innovation Day – getting and keeping good team members.
Ms Astridge has an international reputation as a leader in the people strategy field and shared effective communication strategies and essential leadership skills required to retain good staff.
“If you want to lead and manage people you need the ability to relate to people and the ability to be really clear about what you require from your staff,” Ms Astridge said.
“The best leaders coach and support their team, encourage and ask questions and are good at setting high standards and holding people to account.”
Ms Astridge said most managers fell into one of two categories – relating or requiring.
“Relating managers often hear things like ‘he or she feels like a friend more than my boss’ or ‘I can get away with not completing that task because my manager will not mind’,” she explained.
“Whereas staff under requiring managers might say ‘he or she never appreciates what I do’ or ‘nothing I do is ever good enough’.
“There is a sweet spot and if you can balance relating and requiring you can expect 90pc higher engagement from staff.
“That’s important because there is a correlation between engagement and profitability and productivity.”
She added it was important to strike a balance between caring deeply for staff and challenging them directly.
Ms Astridge said high performance and engagement workplaces experienced lower absenteeism, but it was up to leaders and managers to drive change.
“This is leadership 101 – we all know it, but it is hard to deliver on,” she said.
“You can only change you – if you want a different result out of someone else you have to think ‘how can I change what I am doing to get a better result?'”