Pop quiz! Answer the following three questions (yes or no):
- Would you ever allow an employee to milk your cows with no knowledge of milking?
- Would you ever allow an employee to drive your tractor with no knowledge of tractor driving?
- Would you ever allow an employee to treat your cows with no knowledge of herd health?
I am certain that you answered a resounding “NO” to each of the three questions.
Now please answer a fourth question (again, yes or no):
- Would you ever allow an employee to be supervised by a manager with no supervisory training?
The reality is that your answer to this question is probably “YES.” In fact, there are very few businesses that could answer this fourth question with a resounding “NO.”
As the leader of your dairy or other business, it is your responsibility to establish and implement policies that benefit the business. Let me suggest that one of the most beneficial policies that you could implement is this: No member of the workforce of this farm or other business will be supervised by a manager who has not had supervisory training and is an effective supervisor.
So why is it so common to have an employee supervised by an untrained manager? And why would my suggested policy be beneficial to your dairy farm?
The answer to the first question is self-evident, if hidden in plain sight: We would not have an untrained person milk, drive a tractor or give shots, as their lack of training would be immediately visible in their performance. But the same is not true for an untrained manager. In fact, the impact on performance occurs over time because the performance impact is indirect.
With an untrained or poor supervisor, employee performance fails to improve and may even decline over time for three main reasons:
- Poor supervision almost inevitably creates frustration, leading to reduced employee motivation and increased turnover.
- The absence of encouragement and positive feedback results in deterioration of the employee’s self-confidence.
- A lack of training and redirection feedback — even unfairly negative feedback — impedes any improvement in performance.
The research on employee performance clearly shows that one of the most important determinants of employee engagement and performance is the quality of the supervision the employee receives. One of most effective ways to increase the motivation and engagement of your workforce and the productivity and profitability of your dairy is to increase the number of great managers.
Of course, to become a great manager requires supervisory and coaching skills. That’s another column…
Leadership Lesson: Improve your dairy or other business by establishing a policy that NO member of the workforce of this business will be supervised by a manger that has not had supervisory training and is an effective supervisor.
Bob Milligan is Senior Consultant with Dairy Strategies LLC and Professor Emeritus at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-647-0495.