Business Insight: Study reveals the personalities of the ag workforce

Published 11 March 2019
Farmer for BI column

Article by Susan Webster, Southern Cross University’s Farming Together Communications leader

You would have had to been hiding in the stationery cupboard a long time to have avoided a Briggs Myers personality test in your working life. 

Like cattle through the drafting race, most office workers are divided into the SJs, (Sensing, judging), SPs (Sensing, perceiving), NTs (Intuitive, thinking) and NFs (Intuitive, feeling).

But what happens if your office is a farm? Or a fishing trawler? Or a forestry coupe? Australia has a sizeable ag-workforce and a new Grain Research and Development Corporation study has analysed the personality types therein. There are some lessons that stretch beyond the five-strand barbed wire fence.

Consultant Cam Nicolson has shaken down the Briggs Myers rankings into four broad categories.  We came upon all these types among the 28,500 primary producers who engaged with the recent Farming Together project administered by Southern Cross University.

The SJs are now called ‘The Dependables’. They are proud of the industry they work in and believe what they do is of great value and service. Dependables have a strong work ethic. They value consistency and routine. They like solid facts and are good at developing policies and procedures.

The SP types are now called ‘The Doers’. They don’t hold the same level of consistency and routine of the Dependables. They like to jump into things and get them done even if all the detail hasn’t been sorted out. It is common to see them with multiple activities on the go at any one time, many of which will not be finished. They work hard, often at a frantic pace but generally have a good sense of timing.

NT types are now called ‘The Pioneers’ who will try almost anything and will often be the first to try something new.  While they love getting their teeth into the start up, they have to concentrate to sustain interest once the project is past the design phase. Their strengths include problem solving, strategic planning and understanding complex systems.

Lastly, meet ‘The Team Builders’ who try to reach their goals without compromising their personal code of ethics. They tend to focus on the people needs of a business or community and make great community leaders. They support inclusive decision-making and believe the strength of the business lies in the people. Their strengths include developing a vision and empowering others to join.

Consultant Cam Nicolson said about 55 per cent of farmers are Dependables and 25 per cent Doers, compared to the general Australian population of 40 per cent Dependables and 15 per cent Doers. If your business is pitching to Australia’s booming agribusiness sector, you need to understand the difference in these dynamics and adjust your sales technique.

This article originally appeared in the Business Insight section of the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper on 09/03/2019 and is for general information purposes only.

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794 or scumedia@scu.edu.au