Hosting trainees is a bit like venturing into unknown HR territory. Although trainees are technically employees, they are also honorary family members. Basically, the honorary part means that they are not actually stuck with us for life, and we don’t have the shared history that family members typically do. All of that to say, the relationship is complicated.
In many ways, trainees are like any other young adult living at home. However, they have to jump right into all of the rules of the household, rather than learning them gradually. To make matters more challenging – I don’t even remember what the rules of the household are so that I could tell them. As a host mom, I am in my own space and everything is familiar, so sometimes I don’t even remember what needs to be taught. Full disclosure: I am a bit particular about bizarre things, so trainees also have to figure out which of these “rules” are Canadian culture, and which are just my personal quirks.
One of the other challenges of being a good Boss/Mom is to identify and capitalize on each trainee’s unique strengths, both as a person and as a farm worker. Some trainees are really sociable and others more solitary, some are more mechanical and others more academic. First, our job to figure out what each trainee knows, as well as what they are most interested in learning. Then, our job is to manage the combination of personalities, work experience, and tasks, so that the trainees get the most out of their experience while we run the most efficient operation possible. It is also important that we communicate to each trainee, what it is that we see them contributing to our team.
Some days I feel like more of a mom and some days I feel more like an employer. Both are good and necessary, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Or that I always get it right. My biggest hope is that trainees know that we are making an effort to strike the right balance.
Perfection is not required – but trying is.