Again, she notes, “we can't help banks with their policies or short-sightedness. So we focus on what we can do, and the most promising for us is workforce development. With a limited pool of people willing and able to work on dairies, our focus has turned to developing people who never thought of themselves as leaders, into leaders.”
The Krafts are focusing on using positive reinforcement and explaining the ever-important “why” of an activity (like explaining that the farm vaccinates cows so that they don't get sick and clog the farm’s hospital area). They work intensely with their employees, using a weekly 15-minute training activity and a 15-minute issues meeting with the main workforce; 1-hour weekly meetings with managers as a group; and 3-hour weekly meetings with top management.
“The training repeats quarterly, and new hires — which are our next pool of leaders — are placed in intensive weekly training for a month to get them up to speed with the rest of the crew,” she adds.
The Krafts also have a mentoring program to help teach leadership skills “since that is not taught in school,” Kraft says.
“Many of us in the industry grew up with parents who worked with us to develop character — like ‘Don't quit until the job is done!’, compassion and a very special set of skills,” she adds. “We are working to help our workforce think of the dairy as a career choice, rather than simply a job or step to something greater. We are grooming them to do the ‘great’ thing on our operations. We are helping our workforce choose attainable goals, keep them in mind and work toward them. Ultimately, these are our goals, too! We have translators involved everywhere we are trying to get greater comprehension.”
They also work with groups like the Colorado Livestock Association and Colorado State University to put on several trainings a year, ranging from calf care to maternity hospital and milking parlor operations — all in Spanish, and often on their dairy, making them even more accessible to their workforce.
Because that they can control.