Mark McKeon of MMA Group, former AFL High Performance Coach and member of the Collingwood Hall of Fame, is a keynote speaker at the upcoming GRDC Research Update in Wagga Wagga on February 13 and 14, where he will address the issue of sustainable peak performance for farm advisors. Photo: supplied

Wagga GRDC Update - tips for advisors to manage workload

It’s a common scenario for many farm advisors where working long, hard hours in a small community leaves little time for recovery, which, according to one of Australia’s leading experts on workplace sustainability, creates problems.

It’s a common scenario for many farm advisors where working long, hard hours in a small community leaves little time for recovery, which, according to one of Australia’s leading experts on workplace sustainability, creates problems.

Mark McKeon of MMA Group, former AFL High Performance Coach and member of the Collingwood Hall of Fame, is a keynote speaker at the upcoming GRDC Research Update in Wagga Wagga on February 13 and 14, where he will address the issue of sustainable peak performance for farm advisors.

"We find often that advisors are hard workers and time paupers, they feel great empathy for their clients who often are facing extreme weather or financial stressors and often the advisors are also dealing with a lot of pressure, whilst living in the same small community they work in,” Mr McKeon said.

“While many people would say this is stress, stress isn’t the problem. The problem is a lack of recovery.

“Stress allows us to perform at a level we could never achieve if our lives were stress free. Stress releases adrenaline into our bloodstream along with free floating fatty acids and cortisol, a cocktail of chemicals so powerful it would be illegal if taken as a sports supplement, yet many of us ‘use’ it every day.”

Mr McKeon said when used to an advisor’s advantage, this heightened state of awareness actually helps determine and convey excellent advice on the right crop choice, soil treatment or longer term farm plan.

“Stress drives us to reach levels of achievement and efficiency we would never ever approach without being put under pressure. Stress creates an accelerated level in our entire being that enables us to cope with what in some cases amounts to an almost impossible workload,” he said.  

“Unfortunately, when living in a socially close community, this great strength can also become our Achilles’ heel. An empathetic agronomist can be tempted to cross the line from adviser to counsellor, which is something they should be wary of doing.

“Stress enables us to temporarily develop the ability to work longer and sleep less, first as an abnormal state but one that quickly becomes a habit.”

But he warned this constant stress and high levels of adrenaline could make it impossible to slow down, even when an opportunity arose.

“This is the crux of the issue for many people: they just don’t have the down time or the mental space to recover and build their resilience.

“My presentation at the Wagga Wagga Updates will address some ways in which agronomists can implement positive change and boundaries to create more sustainable workplaces.”

Mr McKeon will be speaking on day two of the two-day GRDC Research Update at Wagga Wagga, being held on February 13 and 14, at Joyes Hall, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.

The program provides agronomists, consultants, researchers and growers with an accessible forum to showcase and discuss innovative thinking and the latest research outcomes relevant to modern grains production and farming systems.

Other speakers include Ron Storey of Pulse Australia on the expansion of high value pulse crops, Rohan Brill from Department of Primary Industries New South Wales on optimising canola growth, Paul Umina from cesar on insect control and resistance and Chris Preston from the University of Adelaide on herbicide resistance.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Thanks for providing feedback.