Rayner Reckons

Jul 12

Some tips before your head out to the new job

Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Over the past few years I’ve noticed growing interest from many young people keen to make their careers in agriculture.  It’s exciting to see so much enthusiasm and excitement about cattle, cropping and agriculture in general.  I think it’s a great to see people with passion and excitement looking to make their careers in the industry. 

I’m often asked for some tips and advice from young people taking their first steps towards an agricultural career. I know every job is slightly different, and every person approaches situations from a slightly different level of skill and ability, but I reckon there are a few basic tips that might be applicable to anyone heading out to the stations.

There are plenty of tips for young people heading out to stations.  One of the best is from the regular blogs that are shared by the stations contributing to the Central Station Blog.  So if you are keen to make your way, check those tips out as you prepare.  Having said that, a few things have struck me and I think are worth sharing as well.

Tip 1: Be polite and courteous!  You’d think that would be a given!  But a lot of people these days seem to believe that a resume with their educational achievements and previous employment is all that is needed to secure a position.  Actually, your manner and your interaction with your new employer carries so much more weight than the CV. I reckon its important to remember that the opportunity to start your career shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Appreciate the opportunities and be respectful of the working environment you hope to enter.

Tip 2: Present yourself well & look after your gear:  As much as we would all like to believer that appearance isn’t everything, how you present yourself is often seen as reflection on how you care for yourself and any of the gear you might be trusted with.  If you are prepared to take a little time to be neat, tidy and care for yourself, it indicates you’re probably going to look after the equipment you’ve been trusted with.

Tip 3: Learn to Listen and Pay Attention!!  No one expects you to know how to do every job straight away! But equally, no one wants to explain how to do things over and over.  So when you get a new job given to you, pay attention the first time.  Watch, listen and ask questions.  Don’t pretend you understand if you don’t get something.  If you don’t get it, ask then and there.  Its better to ask the first time, then to go off and half do a job or stuff things up because you weren’t paying attention and you didn’t understand.

Tip 5: Don’t expect people to look after your gear!  In any job you are going to be trusted with equipment.  Some of it might be brand new. Some of it might be older.  It doesn’t matter.  If you are trusted with something, look after it and respect it!  Secondly, if you are using it, you’re responsible for it.  So don’t expect the boss to have to re fill water containers, charge radios, or check you have everything for the day. 

Tip 6:  Look for the jobs you can do to be useful:  In any job, there are often little things you can do to make the job a bit easier or quicker for the rest of the team.  It could be setting the gates and yards up before the cattle are bought close to the yards.  It might be putting on the lunch billy or switching over water troughs.  Get used to looking for the little jobs and doing them without being asked to.  It helps the team and it makes the job a bit easier for everyone.

Now I know there are plenty of other tips and suggestions.  But I reckon these few can be boiled down to the simple ones of be respectful, listen, learn, and ask; help each other and take responsibility for yourself.  Be part of a team.  These are the skills that you can build a career around.  In any job you go to, regardless of it being on a farm, a station or any other field of agriculture, these are the ones that will help you make your mark and lead you to a more rewarding and enjoyable career.

Dec 10

Taking a leaders role

Posted on Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Leadership is a word used very frequently in every workplace.  I reckon its a word that is easy to say, and despite being the focus of research, training and plenty of publications, still is open to many different definitions.  I think all of us have expectations and interpretations of what leadership is, and of some of the characteristics of leadership.  But having said that, how important is leadership to you and in your farm business?

I think about leadership a lot.  In my mind leadership is something that is a combination of many skills and more importantly an attitude.  I reckon its vital that you don't look on leadership as something that only matters when you are working with a team or when you are working with employees or when you are judging your boss!  I think good leadership starts at an individual level and if you can get that established it will help in your interaction with everyone else.

So what makes a good leader?  There are plenty of publications that attempt to define this.  I think about something I was told once as a newly appointed Deputy Captain with Fire Rescue NSW.  That is;

"A good leader is a good follower"

If you think about that for a second and consider it for your own circumstances, it might help you in your daily efforts to be a good leader.  I take it to mean, that when I follow someone, I do it because:

  • I respect their knowledge and skills

  • They have an ability to make decisions and to stick by these decisions

  • They have a strong sense of fairness

  • They have a willingness to listen 

  • They trust my skills and knowledge 

  • They share their ideas and encourage me to to do better

I could go on, but thats what I expect from people I choose to follow.  Or rather who exercise leadership roles in activities I am involved in.  

So if I expect that from others, I think its only fair that I try and do the same when I'm in working with other people.  

It might be easy to think, particularly when you may work on your own or with a family team, that concentrating on your attitude and skills to leadership isn't the most important priority.  I would argue that it actually is a big priority.  

Your attitude to the important things such as being safe when you are on the farm, driving safely, moving stock correctly, wearing the right gear when welding or fencing or mixing chemicals; how you approach animal welfare or comply with industry practice are, without a doubt, reflections of your attitude to leadership.  When you take on staff, or even if you are working with you partner, your willingness to be a good follower, and share your knowledge and skills, to trust the other people to do their job and to help them do their job better all contributes to you becoming a better leader.

I guess I focus on these things because I'm passionate about helping other people do their job better, to achieve their passions and goals, and because I want them to be safe from personal injury or from the unintended consequences of poor decisions.  So in my mind being a leader isn't about being in charge.  To me it comes down to using the opportunities that come my way in order to help people move closer to their goals.

I reckon if one of your goals is to enjoy your work and for the people you work with to enjoy their roles; if you and your colleagues want to be safe and effective across your business thinking about leadership skills and attitudes will help you move closer to achieving these goals.


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