Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

Dairy results suffer from impoverished managers

Jorge M. Estrada Published on 30 September 2015
farm worker illustration

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series of articles to review the four most common management philosophies that dairy managers employ. The first article in the series appeared in the July 1 issue and reviewed the authority-obedience philosophy.

The second article in the series appeared in the Aug. 25 issue and reviewed the country-club management philosophy.



Let me introduce you to Jared. Jared was promoted to a manager position three months ago and has been consistently struggling. His team is disgruntled, and some of the team members have already approached the owner of the dairy about their discontent. The owner of the dairy feels he is at a crossroads with Jared. He had been such an outstanding performer – up until his promotion.

You might remember Dan (the authority-obedience manager) and Jeff (the country-club manager), who both brought strengths to their roles (Dan and his focus on tasks, Jeff and his focus on people).

Well, Jared doesn’t have either one, plain and simple. And from what we can assess, this is already causing a negative impact on the dairy and its results. The tough thing is that it is hard to calculate the financial impact of this situation on the dairy.

In my experience, this scenario happens more often than you think. I get a chance to work with businesses in agriculture, biotech, communications, construction and others, and you find it everywhere. You may have heard of the “Peter Principle,” which by definition is when people get promoted to their next level of incompetence.

In the scenario above, Jared’s boss promoted him to supervisor because he was a sharp employee in the breeding area with outstanding numbers, so he thought he ought to make a good supervisor, too.


Technically, Jared was very sound – but when it came to leading people, earning their trust and respect, communicating effectively and, in essence, making great things happen through others, Jared falls short, making him an “impoverished manager.”

The challenge with Jared’s style of management is that he isn’t very concerned with either the needs and feelings of members of his team – or the tasks assigned and those completed. His actions almost seem like he doesn’t care. Table 1 details the advantages and disadvantages of being and utilizing the impoverished-manager philosophy.

management style

Decision time

From what we have gathered about Jared, it is time to make some decisions. First, he needs to decide if he is going to stay in the role or be removed from it.

If he is going to stay in the role, he is going to have to do some serious work and focus on changing key behaviors. He will need to reconfirm his boss’ support for him and possibly seek help from a coach. This is possible but requires focus and intention, and a lot of development of leadership skills.

If he is not going to stay in the role, then we need to transition him to another role and bring a person into the role who has the necessary technical, communication and leadership skills.


Be a self-aware manager

If you have identified and self-assessed that you are an impoverished manager, this is the first step toward improvement. You have had an insight. In a previous column, I have written about metacognition, being aware of your own thinking. You have a great opportunity to make changes and become a great leader if you are aware of yourself.

Focus on tasks

You need to be able to flex your behaviors to adopt behaviors from the authority-obedience manager. Studying the behaviors of the authority-obedience manager is key. These include practicing self-assurance and self-confidence, making key decisions and executing on them swiftly.

Take charge, pay attention to the issues your people are facing, and walk toward the problems, not away from them. Emotionally, you may have some fear of going there, but once you start practicing, you will find yourself noticing that you can do it.

Focus on people and relations

You will also need to be able to flex your behaviors to adopt behaviors from the country-club manager. This includes connecting with people and showing genuine interest in them. For example, simply ask members of your team: “How are you doing?” “How are things going?” Find what basic human needs you need satisfied and then see if they are met in your employees.

Consider holding one to two meetings per week, for 20 minutes at a time, and focus on tasks, key decisions and connecting with people. Setting up a weekly meeting with your boss will help you too, even if it’s just for 20 minutes, to review and focus on tasks to be done and the people doing them.

Give and get feedback from him. Also, you’ll need regular recharges to build your self-confidence. Take time early in the morning to imagine yourself achieving the objectives you seek as a changed leader.

How to help coach the impoverished manager

Coaching this manager begins with helping him or her make a decision: “Is he or she in or out of leadership?” It will take attention, focus, intention, energy and coaching to improve their management capability.

It is an investment in time and money. As a business owner, you don’t want him or her to waste either one. As with the other management styles, coaching will include building on that internal intelligence we all have, the power to notice ourselves and become self-aware.

leadership gridIf your impoverished manager wants to make changes, help him or her work on noticing the advantages of authority-obedience management and country-club management. Encourage positive emotion that he or she can be a different manager, in different situations, with different people.

If you have become more self-aware and conclude that you are an impoverished manager, congratulations, this is the first step to making changes. If you decide to leave this post, or your boss removes you from it, then work through the change. As you decide to work on your behaviors, ask for help; you are not Superman.

You will then soon begin to reap the benefit of change. Be open to learning and flexing to new management styles that support different situations to become a more effective leader.  PD

ILLUSTRATION: Illustration by Corey Lewis.

Jorge Estrada
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