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|0308 EL: Teamwork to produce high performance|
|El Lechero Dairy Basics - Management|
|Written by Tom Fuhrmann DVM|
|Wednesday, 30 April 2008 17:00|
Most high-performance dairies that I work with don’t have superstars. Rather, they get extraordinary results through ordinary people.Owners and managers of high-performance dairies provide leadership to organize, focus and motivate teams of workers to follow specific work routines and work to high standards. Middle managers are key team leaders who work with owners to implement the strategies through the teams of workers with whom they work. If you are a team leader on your dairy, you have both opportunities to grow and responsibilities to fulfill to your owner and your fellow workers.
Dairy owners don’t manage milking and mastitis; they manage milkers. For that matter, owners don’t manage fertility, feeding or calves. They manage herdsmen, breeders, feeders and other key supervisors of workers on the diary. A philosophical change that owners of large, high-performance dairies make is recognizing the importance of workers as teams, and then providing the structure that allows teams to succeed. If you are a worker or a team leader on your dairy, you can appreciate what teams can accomplish.
Teams have four components; we’ll use milkers as the example. Obviously all teams have players, milkers, who may be divided into day, night or morning teams. Then, every team must have a coach or supervisor. That may be the owner, a herdsman or head milker(s). The third component is “rules of the game” which is the milking routine, the method to wash-up the parlor, how to handle cows identified with mastitis, etc. The rules are work protocols or “SOPs” and define “this is how we do it here on our dairy”. The fourth component of a team is a goal – to win. Winning may be a somatic cell count less than 200,000, clinical mastitis less than 2 percent, finishing “on time”, etc. And successful teams need specific goals; it is just not adequate to say that we want to be “the best” that we can be.
If you are a herdsman, head milker or in charge of a group of workers on a large dairy, these are a few things that may help you better understand your job and your responsibilities. First, you have been selected to supervise a team because you’ve shown that you understand your work and you’ve performed well in the past. American dairymen operate businesses that must produce excellent results to succeed. You have helped produce those results and your owner now trusts you to help him by helping your fellow workers to succeed.
But that means that you accept more responsibility. Here are the five points that explain your role as a leader and that identify you as different from the rest of the workers. These are: 1) team leaders know how to organize work, 2) team leaders train the workers on their team, 3) team leaders monitor their team members by watching them as they work with them and by using records to judge performance, e.g. goals, 4) team leaders motivate or discipline (retrain) workers on their teams and, 5) team leaders communicate upwards to their coach or boss and downwards to their team members. So now you are a part of the management team which means you can help both your boss and your fellow workers. If your owner has an organizational diagram be certain you understand your position and responsibilities.
How can you fulfill the expectations of your owner? First of all, learn their goals and what they want. Dairymen succeed only when the results of your work are good. If you don’t understand, ask your owner to explain your work and why it needs to be done a specific way to you. The more you understand, the better you can do. Clarify your work with animals and with people. If you are a head milker, for example, be certain you know the routine, equipment and milk quality goals. But also learn how your owner wants you to handle workers who are late to work, who don’t follow routine or who don’t handle cows properly.
Recognize also that you are the most capable person to explain work to your team members. You can use the correct words, reduce complicated ideas to simple terms and relate to your workers perhaps better than your owner can. If you are bilingual, you can translate your owner’s ideas into Spanish words that your workers understand. Remember that owners need work done correctly to produce results. If your team doesn’t understand their work, they will fail.
Your responsibility as a team leader is to do everything you can to help your team succeed. This is how you can really help your fellow workers. You know your team and their personalities, traits and cultures. You are not only their friend by helping them understand, but also their teacher. Teachers tell and show students, then watch them and correct them along the way to succeed. Your role as a supervisor is much the same. How many times have you felt frustrated yourself, or seen other countrymen unhappy because they were never taught what to do? Your owner put you in a position to help avoid that frustration. He is counting on you to recognize when to train, monitor and correct fellow workers to do work the right way, the way you know it must be done.
Another responsibility to help your owner and your workers is to identify workers’ skills and knowledge and make recommendations to your owner. You might know that one of your milkers, for example, is a veterinarian that could fill a position in the health team and contribute more than being a milker. Or you may be aware of a personality conflict between workers that could be solved by your owner if you explained the situation to him/her.
Milk production and milk quality goals are achieved by workers through cows. Workers on large dairies are organized as teams who achieve goals when they work together. If you are a team leader, coach your workers to succeed. If you are a worker, appreciate that you are an important player on your team. Good things happen when good people work together to attain extraordinary results. EL
This article topic also appears in Progressive Dairyman. This article has been written specifically for dairy employees. The article in Progressive Dairyman is written for dairy owners and herdsmen.