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HERd Management: Create a ‘culture of empowerment’: Tips from members of Exchange by Dairy Girl Network

Published on 06 October 2021

Earlier this year, Heather asked a question about empowering employees in the Exchange by Dairy Girl Network Facebook group: “I have had the amazing opportunity to hand-pick employees for our value-added/local food expansion. I am so excited to work with this team of women who have their own unique and complementary talents.

What I have promised them all is that we are going to work hard to create ‘a culture of empowerment’ that really turns us into a team. Has anyone here, either on the farm or off, developed a culture they are particularly proud of? I’m especially interested in hearing about organizations that are woman-heavy, but can see this culture spilling over to the farm as well (that’s my hope). Does your employer have an amazing culture? I’d love to hear more! Thank you!”

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“I opened an insurance agency in late 2019 to control my destiny and create the best team culture. I have three full-time and two part-time employees. I talk with them daily on a personal and professional level because I care and treat them like family. I ask them what they need help with several times a day and empower them to reach their goals. Setting expectations, having excellent communication and making sure the right people are in the right seats on the bus are the big three.

“At the end of the day, before leaving, each team member sends a short email where they give an overview of accomplishments, their wins and their priorities for the next day. This helps everyone know what’s going on, as one full-time works remotely and sometimes the rest of us have to also. On the weekly touch base, we go over what is going well and what they need help with to succeed. At our weekly team meetings, I coach and detail our activity/sales/goals. I have invested in product and sales training for them.

“I feel really good about what I have created in a short time. When I was out the whole month of November due to Covid pneumonia, they stepped in and very few customers even knew I was sick. I truly feel they would do anything for me and each other. I wish you the best with your expansion!”

—Ann

“LOVE that you are asking about this. I talk about this all the time. I am a herd manager on a farm. I faced a lot of sexism and homophobia previously as an out queer woman. We have way more women, refugees and queer folks than the average farm. Most of the time, we are a majority women team. My boss makes it extremely clear that racism, sexism and homophobia will not be tolerated. Something I love about our work culture is monthly team meetings. Our boss gives a review of the previous month and a look at what’s to come. I do the same for the cattle. Then the floor is open. We go in a circle and each person has a chance to voice positive comments, issues and ideas. It really relieves any underlying tension, and we learn so much from one another.

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“My boss also really stands behind us. He encourages us to take part in activities (example protest against right extremists and racism) together. Helps us bond and feel like we are supporting ourselves and creating a tolerant environment. He also gives us lots of opportunity for further education through workshops, etc.”

—MK

“I recently joined a direct sales company because I thought it would be easy cash on the side (it is). But what I love about it more than the cash is the team atmosphere. Every one of us is consistently positive, uplifting and helpful toward each other. The leader offers little incentive perks, $10 gift cards here and there for goals reached. We always have to share goals and how we are going to achieve them. We celebrate together if one of us reaches them. It all sounds very sappy when I write it out but lemme tell ya. You get a group of women working together, and it feels pretty good to be a part of it.”

—Abby

“Check out this short video by RSA Animate featuring Daniel Pink talking about autonomy, mastery and sense of purpose as qualities that characterize workplaces where people want to work.”

—Kara

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“I love this post. This is something I really want to highlight on my own farm. My employees are mostly working moms of varying ages, and I love it. I think it makes us unique and have been wanting to find a way to use it to bring us together as a team.”

—Jenny

“I’m incredibly grateful for my amazing team that is woman-led. We have an on-site processing plant often fully run by women (sometimes I have a guy, but my women team members often outperform).”

—Melissa

“Check out Galen Emanuele (Shift Yes); he has a ton of resources on building a positive organizational culture on his website and YouTube. And an awesome weekly newsletter!”

—Lindsey

“I love that you are actively thinking about this! I work part-time for a nonprofit that has the most amazing culture. We use flat management, and the executive director is an exceptional, hardworking, intelligent and kind woman who leads with empathy and gives space for everyone. Flat management has given us a ton of transparency and also pushed a culture where we all are accountable to each other. I really can’t say enough about the flat management and learning culture. I think those two have been key to creating such an awesome environment.”

—Sarah

 

This column is reprinted with permission from the February/March Dairy Girl Direction. Learn about the Dairy Girl Network . Check out the Exchange by Dairy Girl Network - Facebook.

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