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|0609 EL: Leading your milking team|
|El Lechero Dairy Basics - Management|
|Written by Tom Fuhrmann DVM|
|Saturday, 31 October 2009 17:00|
If you are a herdsman, parlor manager, milking supervisor or head milker, your team of milkers is counting on you to be their leader.
Are you up to that challenge? Do you understand how important your role is to help your fellow workers?
First, good leaders know and accept their role…..a leader is one who wants to exert influence over others. Realizing this IS your role is the first step to becoming the herdsman or parlor supervisor you need to be for your workers. Do you want others to be successful? Do you care about how others work and perform their duties? Do you want to help your fellow workers do their job, earn their pay and enjoy living and working on the dairy for which you are in a leadership position? If your answer is “YES,” then you have taken the first step to fulfilling your herdsman or parlor manager leadership role. If you don’t feel that way, be honest with yourself and really think about whether or not you want to accept the role of manager, supervisor or head milker. It may just not be right for you.
But you may feel uncomfortable in this leadership role…Don’t be! In Mexico and other Hispanic countries, leaders are not always looked upon respectfully. You may be from a country where some leaders are not ethical, abuse their power and take advantage of their position as boss. That is not the case in the “Gringo world” in which you now work. Your dairy owner wants and expects you to help him help your fellow workers. He has asked you to be their boss because he sees that you have the knowledge, skills, attitude and experience to help your fellow countrymen. It is not only an honor to be thought of this way, but it is also an opportunity for you to earn more, help your fellow workers and contribute to the success of your dairy. And it is a responsibility to help and lead others to success. Don’t be afraid or shrink from this role; you can do it!
After understanding your role, next you must earn continued respect from your team of workers. You must be honest and helpful. Use your experience and knowledge to teach and work with your workers so they understand their jobs. You can show them:
• Starting and finishing milking on time allows other workers on the dairy to do their jobs correctly and on time. Cows do better when everyone and everything is on time and consistent.
• Following the milking routine keeps everyone in order and organized.
• Cleaning teats properly reduces bulk tank milk bacteria counts, improving milk quality.
• Finding and separating cows with abnormal milk keeps the somatic cell count (SCC) as low as possible.
• Watching for and separating lame and slow cows helps the herdsman treat these sick cows earlier and better.
You must be fair and respectful. When you see a worker doing things wrong, talk to him, re-train him or her to do it right. It is not fair for everyone else to do the routine correctly and allow one worker to “mess things up” for the rest of the workers. You need to treat everyone “fairly,” not “equally”! Fellow workers will respect you more if you correct and re-train the worker making a mistake than if you ignore what you and they know is wrong. Winning respect and being respectful is really, really important!
You must be consistent and helpful with your workers. You are in the position to represent your workers to your boss or the dairy owner. When special circumstances arise, talk to your boss on behalf of your workers. For example, if a worker needs a day off for a special reason, you can talk to the owner for them and make appropriate arrangements. This is your role, your job.
You must be the person who resolves problems and makes decisions. Your knowledge and experience allows you to do this better than anyone else on your shift. Don’t be afraid to make decisions or ask your dairy owner or boss to help you and train you in areas you aren’t sure of. You will gain the respect of both your boss and your workers if you ask questions and learn exactly what to do.
Learn everything you can about your job and the workings of the parlor. You are not only a leader of workers, you are the specialist that others depend upon when machines don’t function correctly, when the tank needs to be washed or when mastitis cows need to be separated. You can be the go-to guy.
Dairies run smoother when workers work together. The leader of a group of workers is the one who develops that teamwork. Great teamwork is critically important in the milking parlor where more than half of all dairy employees spend their working day. You can be the leader, the boss for these workers. Just be a good one. EL
Dr. Tom Fuhrmann DVM
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.