Developing people

Even when you’ve got your full farm team up and running, you need to support your employees to keep learning and developing new skills. You will benefit from the high-quality work that comes with continued training – your employees will grow professionally and will be more likely to stay with you for longer.

Back to: Labour life cycle in agriculture

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the process of constantly learning and developing new skills to perform a job well (or to eventually move into a different or more advanced role). A good CPD programme makes sure a person’s professional qualifications, practical skills and knowledge are kept up to date and expanded as they progress.

CPD is a structured, practical approach to learning, where any new skills or experience gained in the course of a job are tracked and documented. Developing your people’s skills and knowledge helps your business maintain a competitive advantage and become an Employer of Choice. It can also help you retain key staff.

There are all sorts of training available in the farming industry. You can use sites like Dairy Pro and Pig Pro to find more information on available courses, training events, clubs, discussion groups and other resources. 

The value of continuing professional development for employers and employees


Creates more focused and cost-effective training, development and learning that links directly to real business needs 

Demonstrates commitment to continuous improvement aimed at increasing quality and reducing costs for the business 

Promotes the importance of ongoing development and learning that improves staff morale and motivation 

Highlights a person’s achievements and how their skills and knowledge will benefit the business 

Helps identify potential candidates for career progression and promotion  

Manages change more effectively by demonstrating flexibility and adaptability 

Promotes your business as an Employer of Choice.

Provides evidence of learning and improvement that can be used in appraisals, performance reviews and pay negotiations 

CPD options










Job rotation  





Case studies 






Coaching and mentoring

What is coaching?

Coaching is a set of skills that includes listening, acknowledging, questioning and providing corrective feedback. It keeps people on track.


  • Clarifies where you are now and where you want to be
  • Develops thinking, self-belief, confidence, understanding, ownership, empowerment, motivation, clarity and focus
  • Leads to action, accountability and execution

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a skill that provides perspective to the employee when they have exhausted their current level of knowledge, experience and thinking. It comes from a partnership of two people (mentor and mentee) working in a similar field or sharing similar experiences.

Mentoring is:

  • A powerful personal development tool, used to empower, support and encourage people to manage their own learning
  • Based on mutual trust, respect and confidentiality

You can use coaching and mentoring to create a culture of learning where the learner finds the solution. Both methods allow you to step back from solving the problems of others and approaching each interaction as an opportunity to grow people.

Nine ways to develop coaching and mentoring skills

  • Identify what skills you need to learn to become an effective coach or mentor
  • Work alongside an existing coach/mentor who suits your style and personality
  • Meet with the agreed partner to establish your vision of where you want to be
  • Clarify what you want to achieve and what outcomes you expect
  • Work through a programme of regular one-to-one coaching and mentoring
  • Ensure that your chosen partner continues to provide the right structure and resources for you
  • Develop a specific action plan to which you or others can hold you accountable
  • Take time to identify training programmes and workshops that develop identified skills and/or create awareness of knowledge gaps, for example, self-leadership, motivation, coaching/mentoring principles and coaching/mentoring skills
  • Practice and make sure you get feedback from your coach

Differences between coach and mentor:

  • A mentor shares their knowledge, skills and/or experience to help another to develop and grow
  • A coach provides guidance to someone on their goals and helps them reach their full potential

Leadership and management

Some of your employees will be interested in moving into management and leadership roles at some point. You can support them in their professional goals by staying up to date with development programmes aimed at more senior roles in agriculture.

Becoming a leader for the first time?

Leaders in all walks of life are challenged and stretched. You, or your employees, might be stepping into a leadership role for the first time. Watch our Talking Leaders webinar to hear a range of inspirational leaders talk about their leadership journeys, and get tips for your own.

What does an effective farm leader look like?


 Traits of effective leaders

 Desirable behaviours

 Undesirable behaviours

 Leading self

 Growth mindset

Embrace change

Persist in the face of setback

See effort as the path to mastery

Love to learn

Defend current state

Gives up easily

See effort as fruitless or worse

I know what I need to know

 Leading self


Socially adaptive


Recognise power is in your hands

Recharge your battery

Inwardly focused


Blame others for your predicament


Working excessively long hours

 Leading people

 Inspirational leadership

Inspire a shared vision (for family and work)

Be trustworthy

Embrace diversity


Give and receive feedback

Feeling trapped and stuck in a rut

Low trust in others

Expect others to think like you


 Leading people


Strategically aligned

Evaluate risk and reward

Distinguish between fact and opinion

Decide without perfect information

Over-reliance on emotion



Overly optimistic or pessimistic

 Leading business

 Profit and entrepreneurial

Ignite your passion

Cultivate your curiosity

Convert problems into solutions

Risk-taking but will never run out of cash

Feeling trapped

Expect things to stay the same

Leave to others to sort out

Perceive income and returns are fixed

 Leading business

 Detail consciousness

Critical questioner

Improves standards and routines

Builds better habits

Uncovers blind spots

Accepts problem

Defends existing standards and routines

Sticks to old habits and ways of evaluating performance

You can read more about all aspects of leadership in agriculture on our main AgriLeader pages

Using a skills matrix

A skills matrix is a visual tool that helps you map out your team’s existing skills or the skills required to complete a particular task. It helps you plan and manage projects effectively. Add each of the jobs on your farm to the matrix, then use a colour coding, number or tick system to indicate the skill level of each worker against each of these jobs. This will help you better understand the areas of expertise where you’re covered and the areas where you need to encourage further staff training.

DairyNZ has kindly given permission for AHDB to adapt their ‘People’ resources for use by the British dairy industry. We share a commitment to supporting the dairy industry and will collaborate to provide benefit to New Zealand’s and British dairy farmers.