Dayna Rowe is into only her second season of managing a farm team, but she’s found her preferred approach.
“It’s the way you develop your team, it’s the way you treat your team and really encourage them, that makes all the difference. That’s been a huge part of my own style as I’ve come into managing staff,” she says.
Despite being brought up on the family farm, Dayna didn’t really fall in love with dairying until she got a summer job milking cows and spraying weeds at home during a university break.
Four years, two farms and a lot of hard work later, Dayna was offered the 2021-22 season farm manager role on her parents’ farm at Pongakawa, near Te Puke.
The job offer topped off a great couple of years for Dayna who had won the Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year in the 2021 NZ Dairy Industry Awards, having been runner-up the previous year.
The 24-year old’s goal over the next three to five years is to continue building up the family farm, increasing her equity and purchasing some of the herd.
She lets her team have a major say in roster-setting, divvies up jobs based on their personal skillsets and preferences, holds off-farm team-building activities at least twice a season, and has a weekly team meeting on Tuesday mornings.
“Those meetings are run by the whole team. They’re an open place for everyone to share, not just me speaking to them.”
She takes a similar approach when she sits down with each team member for a three-monthly one-on-one.
“I really let them lead that conversation, so I’m not putting any ideas in their head.”
Dayna makes sure her team have an opportunity to upskill, too.
“They’re welcome to do any sort of education, whether it be people management courses or Primary ITO courses. If they pass their course, we’ll pay their fees – it’s a little bit of an incentive for them to actually go and do well.”
Shaping up their workplace together has given everyone staying power too. Her whole team has stuck with Dayna from the end of last season into this season.
“That was an awesome feeling: that what we’re doing together is working, people want to be here, and they want to stay a part of this team. If you get a name for yourself as a workplace environment that’s desirable to work in, you will attract people who want to work for you.”
Dayna is a supporter of the sector’s Great Futures in Dairying workforce plan led by DairyNZ – and its aim to attract and retain great people to reduce the current labour shortage.
The plan is the sector’s strategy for shaping dairy farming as a competitive career option through a range of workplace and technology advances.
“We’ve got so many great opportunities in the dairy industry,” Dayna says. “It’s so flexible – you can concentrate on everyone’s skillsets to decide who gets what job, too. You can think really differently about how a farm works.