Making Rough Conversations Smooth

Business growth through honest conversation

A family gathering
The Mott clan enjoy some down time.

Genevieve and David Mott had been farming 8 000 acres west of Wagga Wagga for over 20 years before they joined Ag EDGE. “We had a good business, but we felt that we just weren’t making enough profit”, Genevieve said today. “Everybody likes to think they are good farmers and good business people, but we couldn’t really pinpoint the weak spots in our business, and that was a bit discomforting”.

Ag EDGE, a small not-for-profit group, is comprised of a number of unofficial ‘boards of directors’ which provide a peer review function, delivering practical and professional input into each board member’s business. Each ‘board member’ is actively involved in agriculture in some way and bring their business and personal experience to the table.

“Joining AG EDGE gave us confidence to think outside the square in our business. Personally, it gave me the opportunity, and the confidence, to ask the tough questions about why we did what we did in our business. At that time, I was not actively involved in the daily management and planning of the farm and sometimes that made me feel like I really didn’t have a handle on where we were heading”, Genevieve said. “You get so busy in the day-to-day work and life, that it is easy for those hard conversations to be pushed to one side. The culture and experience around the Ag EDGE Board table makes it possible to have frank, and sometimes difficult conversations, because everyone is there to support you through the process”.

Ag EDGE meet face-to-face up to four times each year and maintain regular contact in between meetings. Face-to-face meetings are professionally facilitated and each meeting is used to review each member’s business performance or progress towards their goals.

“Ag EDGE helps break the habits we create for ourselves and break out of the traditional roles we may have fallen into. Ag EDGE gives me a voice at the table and I feel that after each board meeting, everyone in the business develops a far better understanding of what needs to change to build a more successful enterprise. Yes, some of those conversations are fairly stressful, but with the support of our board we are able to overcome some of the emotional impasses and address the issues in a respectful and useful way”, Genevieve said.

The Motts grew the business for a further ten years and have since sold the farm. They are still actively involved in Ag EDGE and various farming and family enterprises. “I think that Ag EDGE made a really positive difference in our business and the way we communicate about what is important to us on both a personal and business level. The support around that table was immensely important to us to help us move on with the next exciting phase of our life, as well as support our next generation of farmers”, Mrs Mott said today.

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