Everyday coaching skills for farmers and growers

Everyday coaching skills for farmers and growers

If you manage or supervise farm staff, the chances are you are already using some coaching techniques to help them learn and develop - you just may not call it ‘coaching’. 
A woman standing smiling and holding clipboard as a male farmer talks to her.
A woman standing smiling and holding clipboard as a male farmer talks to her.

This TIAH Guide explains how businesses benefit from managers' coaching skills, how your approach is likely already grounded in the core principles of coaching, and how you can benefit from improving these skills further.

Put simply, coaching is the process of instructing, guiding, or prompting people as they use their skills to work towards desired outcomes. It can be used in a wide variety of day-to-day settings and in situations like helping new staff settle in or dealing with under-performance. 

For example, you may ask a member of your team questions about a task before they start. This will allow you to find out how much they know and help fill gaps in their knowledge. That’s coaching. Or you may give an employee a challenge or ask them to find out something they didn’t know, then discuss the solutions or information they come up with – that’s coaching too! 

A flexible approach 

Some situations where you might use coaching include: 

  • When staff members want to discuss a problem or talk about their ideas on how to handle a situation 
  • When staff have just completed training, and you want to ensure the new skills are used in their job 
  • When an employee is learning or improving a skill, task, or process 
  • When you suspect one or more of your staff could use a boost of morale 
  • When a trainee is doing something new  
  • When having performance conversations either instead of a formal appraisal or in addition to the appraisal process 

An everyday skill 

Coaching should be a normal part of the working relationship with your staff, whatever their role and level of experience. The type of coaching you'll need to give will depend on the person's knowledge, skill, and confidence. 

Think of a sports coach. The amount and type of coaching they give depends on the athlete’s skill level.  

A novice needs more frequent coaching and would need to be instructed on the proper techniques and when to use them.  

An athlete with some experience probably has the basic skills but may need to work on some finer points; in this case, the coach would provide guidance.  

The experienced athlete with good technique may become complacent at times. Some prompting can help keep their performance at its peak. 

Get the best from your team  

Arable farm manager John Haynes uses coaching every day. One example is when he gives new employees a health and safety induction. 

John explains the risks and dangers on the farm and provides a health and safety pack. John recognises that every business is different, so he starts by letting the employee get on with a task, such as spraying a field, assesses how they are doing it, then works with them to reshape their skills and approach to fit with how it’s done on his farm. 

John said, “This shows the individual respect and is better than just telling somebody what to do.  

“I regard coaching as an important aspect of staff development. It’s about engaging in a two-way discussion with my team members; understanding their individual motivations, needs, and aspirations; encouraging them to identify and prioritise their tasks; and supporting them to come up with solutions to the day-to-day challenges of the job.”

Develop your coaching skills

For a limited time, you can jump into coaching with TIAH’s free, certified Essential Skills: coaching for staff retention learning modules.

With the modules all available online, you can complete them at times that suit you and gain up to 20 CPD (Continuous Professional Development) points!