Have a plan in place and stick to it
It is not uncommon for operations to accept deviation from the ideal procedure. This often happens as managers stray away from written protocols and the new standard gets passed from employee to employee. Underwood says that it is important that a protocol be a working document, so that when changes are made they are documented and thought through with management. A structured training process and re-evaluation of current practices can be an effective means to prevent future miscommunication. Involve employees in this process. Engaged employees are often more satisfied with their jobs and will most likely stay with the same employer for longer periods of time.
For instance many calf operations use nipples on bottles to feed calves (it is common to evaluate the opening of the nipple to make sure it is not too large so that the calf does not aspirate on fluid). Occasionally employees will carry a nipple or two in their pocket with the large opening so the fluid flows faster. This is neither sanitary and is certainly not adhering to protocol. But perhaps the employee in this scenario wasn’t aware of the protocol for how calf nipples should be handled and why sanitation is important.
A little education can go a long way and could pay dividends later, with increased calf health. Sanitation, feed and water bucket management, heifer movement and vaccination are other common examples where not communicating the importance of protocol could lead to long-term profit losses. Managers should encourage their employees to ask questions; open communication regarding expectations as well as changes can ease some of the burden.
Acknowledge a job well done
Many well-managed calf operations and dairies strive to hold employees accountable for their duties and offer public recognition for a job well done. Offering incentives for quality work is another positive way to show employees that their work does not go unnoticed. Also, never underestimate the power of just thanking an employee or telling them that they did a good job. This is often more meaningful than other forms of recognition.