Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Posts tagged ‘farm families’

NZ rural women with wow!

It’s great to leave a workshop with that feeling the two days has made a real difference to people’s lives. That’s the Wow for me!

The First Steps,workshop in Masterton NZ did just this. Observing the changes in body posture, the light in peoples eyes, the goals that were set and shared, the “Ahah” moments and the closing comments delivered with passion……left me feeling Wow!

This fabulous workshop has been designed utilising the detailed research carried out by Lindy Nelson of the Agri-Womens Development Trust in New Zealand. Lindy teamed with a psychologist to develop the program and a pilot program was facilitated in 2011. I feel very fortunate that Lindy trusts me to facilitate the first national role out of her program.

The workshop provides women with an opportunity to focus on themselves and their own development for the two days. They explore their values, passions, skills and strengths.

Transferable skills are determined – recognising all of those wonderful skills women have developed in their many volunteer capacities; kindy committees, playgroup, school groups, community events, as well as in their farming businesses; doing the book-work, farm work, marketing and so on… these are all very real skills that are transferable into new ventures,the workplace or industry leadership roles.

The women spend time reviewing the constraints they face with particular reference to the constraints Lindy identified in her research. Options to manage and minimise these are discussed and documented. Everyone leaves the workshop with goals set and an action plan developed ready to take their next step.

I am looking forward to working with more wonderful NZ agri-women over the next week as we roll First Steps workshops at Taihape and Asburton.

I’d love to see Australian women have the opportunity to participate in a program such as First Steps. for more information about the Trust and Lindy http://www.awdt.org.nz or like the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/AgriWomensDevelopmentTrust

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Workshops with rural women

I love working with rural women. They are a generous audience who appreciate what you do for them, particularly if you work with them to determine their unique needs.

As a rural woman myself I have been fortunate to work with many groups of women for many years. I am particularly excited to be heading off to New Zealand on Sunday to work with the Agri-Womens Development Trust facilitating their “First Steps” program. This program is a two day exploratory workshop for rural women who have developed skills/strengths within the context of their rural communities, family and farming lives, who are now contemplating making changes to their lives, and taking their skills to a new level. These women are often the backbone of their communities, involved in organising, fund-raising and are usually self-starters.

New Zealand is fortunate to have Lindy Nelson – a self starter! – who has developed the Trust. More information can be found on the website http://www.awdt.org.nz.

The Partners in Grain project has also provided me with a unique opportunity to pursue my passion of facilitating women and young people in the Grains industry. This project is funded by GRDC has been successfully operating in Australia for 10 years providing regional training opportunities.

Working in local regions can bring its own set of challenges. Here a few of my tips for working with rural women;

  • Find a local champion who shares a passion for learning and community
  • Research local events, school events etc  – don’t expect women to turn up if the local school has sports day!
  • Run the workshop from 9.30-3.00 allow women time to get the children off to school and pick them up afterwards.
  • Ask the group what they would like to learn and adjust the workshop to meet their immediate needs.
  • Check about catering, tea and coffee. Support the locals and ask for local catering – choose a local group that’s important to your audience.
  • Check what’s available at the venue and what you need to bring – country venues may also need setting up so allow plenty of time.
  • Due to distance it isn’t always possible to see the venue prior to the workshop so ask lots of questions. Run through a check list about – lighting, heating/cooling, floor covering (acoustics) size etc.
  • Talk to your local champion about promotion of the event. What is the most effective communication mechanism for that district – school newsletter, community newsletter etc.
  • Having a flexible approach and being baby friendly provides an opportunity for more women to attend your training event.
  • Finally – always finish on time – school pickups are important!

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Farm succession – getting started

When to start the succession planning process?

I believe right now is a good time! If we think about it as part of the business strategic planning process and integrate it into our thinking it’s becomes an important part of ensuring business continuity.

Most members of family farms have the common goal that the farm should stay in the family. This is a great way to get the discussion started; there are plenty of examples of farms that have not remained in the family because the discussion never happened.

Certainly when someone is entering or exiting the business is an essential time to meet and discuss the effect of any changes.

Too often the discussion only starts when there is a family crisis, someone is unhappy, leaving the business or causing waves. Sometimes this is too late. However, as sensible as the process might seem, sitting around the table to discuss Wills, land transfers, retirements and pay outs understandably causes fear and emotion.

Getting everyone to the table at the same time can be difficult. Starting the process can be challenging and different generations will be ready at different times. For the older generation it wasn’t common practice for them when they entered farming. Assumptions made and many of them had to wait for the previous generation to exit,or even die, to take over the farming business. They often didn’t know what was in the Will until it was read.

This generation had to trust their parents to look after them and may expect the younger generation to do the same.

In contrast the younger generation are looking at farming differently – they have been encouraged to see it as a business which like any other small business should have a plan. They are looking for security for their future, to know what will happen and when.

Expectations are different and the generations need to be considerate of each others needs. Stephen Covey’s “Seek first to understand and then to be understood” is important for succession planning. Ask questions and really listen to the answers, ask more questions. Do your best to encourage open and honest communication.

Unfortunately there is not one forumla, every family is different with different personalities and needs.

A few tips for getting people to the table

  • demystify the process as much as possible, explain carefully what’s involved and what would be expected of people.
  • remind family members of the big picture goal and the need to ensure everyone is looked after while maintaining the business (if that’s the goal)
  • recognise the fear and emotion attached to succession planning and deal with this as it arises. Acknowledge the emotions and address them, don’t sweep them under the carpet or respond inappropriately.
  • hold the meeting away from the family home. Treating it like a business meeting in a neutral environment often improves behaviour and ensures the meeting is taken seriously. It can also stop us from retreating to childhood behaviours and habits.

And  always remember; we all do the best we can with the resources we have available to us!

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