Encouraging the Heart of Your Farm - Elaine Froese | Canada’s Farm Whisperer | Your go-to expert for farm families who want better communication and conflict resolution to secure a successful farm transition


Encouraging the Heart of Your Farm

by | Aug 7, 2014 | Farm Women, Farming Business

1. Clear sense of purpose and values

2. Open, clear communication

3. Willingness to accept differences

4. Personal growth encouraged

5. High level of trust

6. Clearly defined roles & responsibilities


8. Balance between work & play

9. Regular discussions with action

10. Outside perspectives welcome.


February is heart month, all month. The list of ten ways you can encourage the heart of your farm was created originally by Doug Stroh, who now works at MNP. Stroh has given me permission to use this checklist with my coaching clients and audiences because it has stood the test of time.

James Kouzes and Barry Posner have written about exemplary leaders who exhibit these key abilities

-challenge the process

-inspire a shared vision

-enable others to act

-model the way

-encourage the heart.

You’ll note that the top management gurus include the need to have heart in our business. Kouzes and Posner‘s “set clear standards” would align with the idea of having a clear sense of purpose and values. If you would like a values assessment for your farm team, contact me at elaine@elainefroese.com. “Expect the best” from Kouzes can be translated to having a high level of trust. How are you expecting the best from your farm team and employees? Posner wants teams to “pay attention” which converts to watching for the outcomes and paying attention to results, in other words accountability. Some farms that I coach are allowing bad behaviour to continue un-checked. Are there consequences on your farm to keep folks accountable for their attitudes and their actions?

Open clear communication is a lofty goal, and sometimes folks need help to be better listeners, and clear with their intentions. Use stories to help clarify how you are feeling and talk about what you are needing.

Gary Smalley and John Trent call this using “word pictures.”

If my hubby might say “Elaine I feel like I am getting leftovers in a brown paper bag” it means that I need to allocate more time to family than to my work. Word pictures are powerful to communicate a story that motivates folks to listen.

How are you encouraging personal growth on your farm ? Do you show recognition verbally or with gifts of time ? One consultant recently shared that he was working hard for the founder to just say “I love you son, and am thankful for all you do around here.” Unfortunately the son is ready to bolt because he feels taken for granted. Dad still has not mustered the courage to say “I love you.”

Balancing work and family is an on-going issue for all generations, but really hits home for the young generation. Take time to celebrate together to encourage the heart of your family, and ultimately your business. It is not a badge of honour to proclaim that you have not left the farm in 3 years ! Strong families celebrate together, and take time for renewal.

When you have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, everyone knows what is expected of them, and can do their jobs well. Kouzes and Posner call this part of encouraging the heart of business “Set the Example.” If you want better attitudes on your farm, check your attitude. If you want people to be punctual, show up on time. If you want honesty in transactions, don’t lie or “work the books”.


I hope you cut out this checklist and put it where you will be reminded to act out practical encouragement for your farm team.



Elaine Froese, CAFA, CHICoach has been encouraging farm families for over 34 years. Visit www.elainefroese.com to gain more insights on building a strong farm family. Watch for her new book “Farming’s In-law Factor” due out in April. Send letters to elaine@elainefroese.com or call 1-866-848-8311.

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