Many years ago I attended the TEPAP School in Texas. That stands for “The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers.” It was a great school and I learned a lot. One thing that really shocked me when I took it was that during the entire week of class, not one topic was related to production practices. It was all on business management.
In my experience, I have found that 80 per cent of what I teach or speak about has to be on production practices as that is what the producers want. When I am asked to speak on grazing or bale grazing, I am bombarded by questions and many producers want to discuss the topic after. However, when I speak about human resources or economics, I only get a few questions and I can become quite lonely afterwards.
I get it. Production practices are sexy. We all love to learn about fencing, grazing, calving or new equipment. But I have also learned that if we want our businesses to be profitable, we should be spending 80 per cent of our time learning about business management and only 20 per cent of the time worrying about production practices, not the other way around. Warning: This is one of my 20 per cent articles.
I enjoy working on human resources. Communication is one of the most important skills you will ever learn in life. It can never hurt to develop your ability to talk to, debate with, and understand others.
I am a custom grazier. The most important part of my business is not grazing. It is human resources. I can be the best grazier in the land, but if I can’t find the land to rent, it does not really matter. I need to be able to talk to landowners to acquire the land at a reasonable rate. One thing that I did bring home from the TEPAP course was the personality-style model. Well, sort of.
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The DISC model that they used was fantastic; except for the fact that it was kind of boring. I apologize to anyone who might be offended but I renamed some of the styles to make the test a little more user friendly.
There are four basic types of people; the Dragonfly, the Butterfly, the Ant and the Bumblebee. (DISC)
The Dragonfly — This insect is a predator. Watch out, it eats other insects. This personality style is very dominant and direct. This person takes action and needs to be in charge. They are willing to take risks and can be impatient. They are problem solvers and value their time. In addition, they can be strong willed, demanding, aggressive, blunt and down-right stubborn.
Butterflies — We all know the social butterfly! This personality is social and influencing. They need to interact with others and are friendly, charming, persuasive, talkative, impulsive, and optimistic. They are usually a good leader and can motivate others. On the downside, they can appear emotional, self-promoting but also are very trusting and generous. Think of a Butterfly you know — they may also have poor time management skills.
Ants — Work, work, work. Tirelessly working doing the same things day after day! This personality style has the need for consistency. They are predictable, patient, understanding and are good listeners. They are hard workers and will get the job done. However, they may be resistant to change and may rather do the job themselves. They can appear as inactive, complacent, possessive, mild and passive.
Bumblebees — If you have ever seen “The Bee Movie,” you will know that the hive is run in perfect harmony. This personality style is a perfectionist. They are accurate, systematic, analytical, methodical and good fact-finders. They will examine things in detail and may set very high standards for others to follow. They can appear as evasive, restrained, conventional and quiet. I bet they like numbers.
Who are you? How about your spouse? Or your kids? Or your hired hands? Or your boss? It is important to know what style you are as it affects how others relate to you. It is also just as important to develop a skill to determine the personality style of the people you deal with. If you want people to co-operate with you more, try understanding how they relate to others. How do they learn? What offends them?
Now this is a very simplified version and of course it is not exact. We are not all one type but more of a mixture of all four. Most people have a dominant style with traits from the other styles mixed in. The version from TEPAP was computerized and it spit out a 17-page report that fit my personality to a “T.”
I am a Dragonfly. I can come off a little blunt. OK, sometimes a lot blunt, but once I learned about these different styles I could start to relate better with others. I learned a few things.
If I am dealing with a Butterfly, I need to be less business minded. I have to understand that they want to be friendly and social and not just “get down to business.”
If I am meeting with an Ant, I need to take my time and explain things carefully. I need to emphasize facts and I can’t be critical of their current ways. If a change is in order, it has to be their decision. I can’t push them or they will push back.
The Bumblebee needs all the juicy details. I have to avoid rushing to the point without giving all the little details first. They are the perfectionist. If it’s not perfect, it’s not right. They may have a lot of questions so I need to be patient and be ready with the answers.
But what if I meet up with another Dragonfly? Well, if we don’t kill each other first, we might get along just great. We can relate to each other quite well. If you meet up with one of us, we want the punchline first, and then you can bore us with all the details if you must because we aren’t listening anymore anyways. (Just kidding, I promise I will still be listening.)
We are impatient and we need to get the deal done.
It is amazing the difference it makes in dealing with people if you first try to understand them. What style are they? Find some place that teaches about personality styles and see how much it changes your ability to communicate. Communication is the most important skill we can learn. It might just be the kick your business needs.