On-time, consistent feed delivery of a well-formulated ration is essential for your farm’s productivity and your bottom line, since feeding too much, too little or not feeding what the ration prescribes can cost you in lost milk production, wasted feedstuffs or both.
So, what do you need to do to motivate your feeders to ensure a job well done? Is it time to dig out incentives, more training, or even a performance-tracking program?
Not so fast. “Motivation works best as a partnership between employers and employees, a building-together challenge rather than simply a challenge for the employer to find magical things that can be done to or for employees,” says Bernie Erven, Ohio State University farm management professor emeritus.
Everybody wants to get to the mechanics of employee motivation, but you must lay some groundwork first, agrees Don Tyler, personnel-management specialist at Tyler & Associates in Clarks Hill, Ind. “Too often, what happens is that we put together a motivational program for employees based on what ‘ought’ to work, but we don’t ask employees what matters to them.”
Use these tips to get to the core of what motivates your employees.
Talk, but also listen
Knowledge of their people is the thing that sets the good managers apart from the rest, says Tyler. “They know employees individually and what motivates each person.”
This doesn’t require an involved, sophisticated approach. Take five minutes to informally visit with your employees to find out why they come to work each day and what’s important to them. Then, listen to what they have to say. Don’t assume you know what their answers will be. Do this periodically to stay on top of what people are thinking about.
Otherwise, you’ll miss opportunities. Case in point: the often-referenced 1999 study at George Mason University that compared employee ranking of what they wanted from their jobs with what their bosses thought was important to the employees. In order of importance, employees said:
• Interesting work.
• Appreciation of work.
• A feeling of being ‘in on things’
• Job security
• Good wages.
But employers thought the ranking would be: “good wages, job security, promotion/growth, good working conditions and interesting work.”
Your task is to avoid that disconnect, whether your employees are unrelated to you or are immediate family members.