Editor’s note: The following item was written by Bob Milligan, senior consultant at Dairy Strategies and professor emeritus at Cornell University. It appeared in the Feb. 29 edition of the Dairy Exec newsletter, published by Dairy Herd Management.

As I am preparing (my monthly LearningEdge) e-newsletter, the big news in college football is Signing Day. The day that high school seniors formally designate the university at which they will enroll and play football. At the University of Minnesota, we have a new football coach, Jerry Kill, who is completing his first full year of recruiting players to play for the Gophers.

In an article in the local paper about his apparent success in recruiting, the writer states: "Kill's gimmick is that he doesn't have a gimmick." The article explains that statement saying his success comes not from a gimmick, but from being genuine, personable, and hard-working. He shows his genuine interest in each recruit, the recruit's entire family, the recruit's total college experience, and even the recruit's post-college career. 

In recruiting, Jerry Kill is Jerry Kill! Recruiting outstanding college football players is about connecting with them — establishing a positive relationship.

I believe great supervisors similarly do not use gimmicks to supervise and coach employees.

Instead of using gimmicks:

  • Great supervisors are genuine. They do not feel superior because they are the supervisor. They do not act differently because they are a "supervisor."
  • They take time to get to know and understand those they supervise. This time is well spent as it:
    • Shows that the supervisor cares, building trust.
    • The increased understanding of the employee's likes and dislikes and strengths and weaknesses enables the supervisor/coach and the employee to work together to increase employee (and supervisor) productivity and job satisfaction adding greater value to the farm/business.

Remember, life is about relationships. And relationships, including supervisor-employee, are about trust.