People management can be difficult, but one simple rule can keep dairy calf and heifer managers on the path to success.
“Follow the ‘raffle rule’,” Tom Wall told participants at the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association’s 2014 annual conference in Green Bay, Wis., April 2. “You have to be present to win. You can't just call it in.”
Wall, who owns Dairy Interactive LLC and Language Links LLC, works with dairy owners and managers as “Dairy Coach”.
His clients frequently tell him that cattle management is much easier than people management, yet they pay far less attention to the “people” side of the business.
“When it comes to your people, you depend on them and they depend on you,” Wall said. “Your influence matters. Management doesn't stop with ‘I told them, they know what to do; I can check it off and go do my job.’ You check on your cattle every day. Why would people require less work?”
The people management path is always uphill, with frequent forks in the road.
“Ideally, everybody should be walking together on the same path. But in reality, about 20% will be in the lead with you; 70% will be in the middle and could go either way; and 10% will not be with you at all,” he said. “Keep everyone on the path toward the goal you're trying to achieve as a team or company.”
While many dairies have a clear "cow strategy" related to nutrition, health, cleanliness, comfort and facilities, fewer managers have a clear “people strategy” to get the best out of their people. Great managers are constantly striving for and achieving great results with their team by developing solid habits throughout the entire team.
Wall said he is seeing a trend where more dairy employees are becoming "lifers".
“Good people want order, respect and opportunity,” he explained. “They want opportunity; they want a place to come to work and stay. Nobody wants to go to work knowing it is a dead end. At the end of the road there has to be something for them.”
“Be present and show people you care. Managing employees is a skill: Learn it, practice it and do it,” Wall concluded. “If you do your job consistently, you’ll have a team that does the same.”