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Practical steps to improve communication with your workers

Pedro Caramona Published on 03 February 2010

The economic impact of labor efficiency on operational profitability is a topic of increasing importance among dairy producers.

Appropriate management skills and effective communication play an important role in performance.

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Recently we discussed this topic with several successful dairy managers and reviewed several points that were brought up that helped them succeed:

Recognize where you stand – make a thoughtful assessment of your current situation. Do you believe you can improve your workers’ performance? What are the main areas where you can have a direct impact?

Improve your own management and leadership skills – managing people is no easy task. As some managers are born with the ability to lead people, others need to make an extra effort to ensure work gets done and the farm runs smoothly while maintaining worker motivation. There are several resources to improve leadership and management skills available at Gregorio Billikopf’s Agricultural Labor Management website ( www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor/7labor/001.htm ). Spending time developing your own skills as a manager can go a long way in improving your relationship with your workers and have a direct impact on their performance.

Insist on proper selection of new hires – workers must have the necessary skills and knowledge to contribute positively for your business. There is nothing more frustrating for a team than when a new team member brings more work rather then less to the team’s daily routine. Make sure you validate your selection process and evaluate the job description, positioning it in agreement with job promotions, rotations or transfers.

Maintain an enjoyable and motivated environment – peoples’ attitudes toward work is determined by a series of factors such as working conditions, work load and supervisor treatment. Having people in the right position and making full use of their capabilities is of paramount importance. Providing a good compensation program and fair benefits allows you to keep the high-valued workers and reduce turnover on your dairy. This reduces replacement costs of trained employees, which improves cohesion and motivation of your team.

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Communicate goals and objectives clearly – a clear job description, defined protocols and job expectations must be made comprehensible and a written document accessible to workers at all times. Results need to be specific, measurable, achievable and time-based with training and performance reviewed regularly.

Evaluation and performance appraisal – investing the time to hear your workers’ concerns provides you the tools to improve communication and develop strategies to better perform their daily tasks.

Most employees have a fervent desire for information about their performance. Using self-evaluation tools can be helpful as workers better understand where their work stands when compared to manager goals and expectations.

Provide learning opportunities – most workers see their work valued when learning opportunities are given to them. This sense of being valued often translates into dedication, empowerment and motivation as well as a long-term perspective on their job. Spend the time understanding the critical training needs and areas of opportunity for improvement and match them with your operational goals.

Develop trusting relationships – foster good interpersonal relationships between employees and management. The development of a trusting professional relationship will enhance employee commitment and increase the likelihood they will go that extra mile when additional support is requested.

Genuinely get interested in your employees – understand their goals in life, likes and dislikes as well as their aspirations as a way to provide you with a solid base to develop a better relationship with your workers and contribute to improved working communication with your team.

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Develop a team approach – recognizing the experience, skills, knowledge and values of each member of the team helps to manage the team. Make sure that the team is interested and motivated. Everyone on the dairy is equally important and should contribute positively for the development of your business. Successful managers develop a team approach and make each individual accountable and responsible for the success of the operation.

Make sure to praise when the job is well done – several managers specifically mentioned that if the farm is running smoothly, there is no reason to meet up with their team. Positive reinforcement has a much higher impact on your team than negative comments. Using the good times as an opportunity to praise your workers for their work helps you develop a positive work relationship and reaffirms the importance and capability of workers to perform to their expectations while giving direction on what is expected in a positive way.

Develop your own managerial skills as well as the skills of your workers. Use the resources available to do so.

Take the time to listen to your workers, express appreciation and accept responsibility.

Praise performances timely and specifically and keep your employees aware of the business goals and how their work influences it.

Develop a teamwork approach, stress cooperation and foster interpersonal relations between employees and management and give employees a chance for success. PD

Pedro Caramona
  • Pedro Caramona

  • Alltech, Inc.

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