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Does your dairy live in a world without consequences?

Tom Wall Published on 19 September 2012

Imagine living in a world where there are no consequences. What do you think that would be like?

At first, that sounds kind of intriguing, doesn’t it? You could eat whatever you want ... calories wouldn’t count. You could drive as fast as you want ... you wouldn’t get tickets, just warnings. You could stay up and party as late as you want ... hangovers wouldn’t exist. Hey ... you wouldn’t even have to work or pay your bills ... someone would just give you free money!



In theory, the notion of a consequence-free world sounds great. But in reality, that’s probably not a place that you’d actually want to live. In fact, every time we turn on the evening news, we get a glimpse of what it’s like in places where laws, rules and consequences are ignored and trampled on.

I think most of us would agree that consequences help maintain balance and control in the world. Fortunately, most people are good and tend to follow rules and obey laws because it’s the right thing to do. The truth is that rules and laws don’t exist because of the “good people” who follow them. But rather, they’re written to hold all the “bad people” accountable for when they choose to ignore them.

In other words, houses don’t have security systems because of all the people who respect other people’s property … locks exist because of all the people who don’t.

And just as consequences exist to hold us responsible for what we say and do, they also serve another critical role. Consequences help us learn from our mistakes and teach us to make better decisions in the future.

Whether you’re training a new pet, raising kids to be well-behaved or leading a team of productive employees, the relationship between “cause and effect” is absolutely critical for getting more of the behaviors you want and less of the ones you don’t.


As a manager, you probably already know that it’s your job to communicate how much you’re going to expect and how little you’re willing to accept from your team. But even more important than that, you need to follow through on a consistent basis.

Unfortunately, many managers don’t utilize the “cause and effect relationship” to their advantage. A lot of managers neglect to reward their employees with “positive consequences” for doing things well, while they often shy away from the discomfort of enforcing the “negative consequences” that come from not doing things properly.

And yes, I agree that everyone should simply “just do their job.” But not everyone thinks like you and I do. If one shift of employees washes all the colostrum buckets and the other shift doesn’t, you should acknowledge both teams’ performance ... differently. If one milker leaves notes about sick cows and another one doesn’t, you should thank one and question the other.

Although it might feel like you’re managing a “grade school” environment at first, your team needs to know that you notice the difference between good work and bad work. Why? Because the truth is … your employees already know who’s who. It’s critical that they know that you, the manager, do too.

So what do you think actually happens “down in the trenches” when you fail to address the difference between good work and bad work? Over time, you end up with more employees doing less work than you originally expected. If you don’t acknowledge the people who genuinely care, they’ll see that taking the time to do things right gets the same response from you as doing things wrong. Unfortunately, the “bad workers” will learn that they can get away with doing short cuts. And eventually, so will the “good workers.”

Before you know it, the good workers will get frustrated and quit. Or even worse, they’ll get discouraged and stay. But instead of doing things as they always used to, they’ll learn from you and their co-workers that results don’t matter and consequences don’t exist.


Every day, you’re in a position to teach your team how to be successful while working at your dairy. Each time you fail to connect actions with outcomes, you miss the opportunity to show your team how to create more value for you and for them. And in the end, everyone loses. PD


Tom Wall
Dairy Interactive, LLC