John Brosnan explains why "fairness", "natural justice" and "good faith" are important components of how you manage a work team on the farm

John Brosnan explains why "fairness", "natural justice" and "good faith" are important components of how you manage a work team on the farm

By John Brosnan*

With rugby as our national game we have seen a busy Super 15 season, the test season and now the World Cup. 

Good games have something vital in common – good refereeing.

Each game is dependent on a capable person having the whistle in hand and employing a range of techniques to control the game.

When done well you have good sport played well.  Done poorly and the result is an ill-tempered frustrating performance that leaves everyone unhappy.

Managing your team at work is like this. Each team needs a leader.

On farm when you work very closely with your team for long hours the lines of management can become blurred. When a need arises for a disciplinary issue to be sorted the authority is sometimes lacking and the respect can be absent.

Even when the tools are there the employer, who works daily with their team, may be reluctant to use them properly. We have all watched an important game of our favourite sport become much less than it should when a referee loses control of the game or is overzealous. 

When you have all the tools in place to manage your team, how do you get your decisions right? How can you tell when to issue green, yellow or red cards or simply award a free kick?

Your first guide is your policies and your employment agreement, backed up by the expectations you cleared laid out back when you did staff orientation.  If the action or inaction you are dealing with breaches these, you need to proceed with management of the issue. From there you have to follow the processes required by the Employment Relations Act 2000, rules of natural justice and good faith.

This means be clear about the issue and why it is an issue.

Be fair about the issue, investigate fully, give the employee every chance to explain their side of things.

Be open-minded about solutions, including better or more training.

And finally take time to consider everything and make decisions, before making decisions over any serious issue.


John Brosnan is a business development adviser at CooperAitken Ltd, accountants in Morrinsville and Matamata. You can contact him here

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