I have written several articles in which I explain differences in communication styles between dairy owners and dairy employees. Most of these articles explain these differences to dairy owners and provide tips on how to close potential communication gaps. This time, I would like to offer suggestions to dairy employees on how to communicate more efficiently with their managers.
1. Remember that we are all working towards the same goals
Regardless of culture, background or language, all of us working in the dairy industry have three essential goals: keep cows healthy and productive, produce high quality milk, and improve our opportunities and those of the next generation through stable income.
I believe it is extremely important for all on the dairy to understand this. We all work as a team and if cow health and production improves, we all benefit. Once we see this, we will interact in a more positive manner and will be more open to others’ ideas.
2. Provide input
I believe this is an area that requires a lot of improvement both on part of managers as well as employees. We assume that if others have questions, they will ask. We assume that if no questions are asked, there is no interest in knowing or understanding our point of view. Assuming is a mistake that could have serious consequences.
Many times managers might not be aware of challenges associated with the tasks that employees perform. For example, your manager might not know that one of the milking units keeps falling off, or that the uneven flooring in the hospital area causes employees to trip and fall. If you don’t describe the problem to the manager, how would they know? Although very often managers are in the area and help with several tasks, they may not have time to inspect everything, or to interview everyone. It is important that you bring up safety and work efficiency issues to them as soon as possible in order for them to address problems in a timely manner and avoid health and productivity problems both in cows and employees. Managers will appreciate this.
3. Ask for help
It is human nature to feel a bit uncomfortable asking for help in certain situations. But what we must keep in mind is that it is better to ask for help or for a more detailed explanation than to be unsure of how we are supposed to medicate a cow or do a physical exam. Not asking for help could be a very costly mistake. Managers will much rather explain something a few times than deal with the consequences of an employee injecting a cow with the wrong drug or sending her to slaughter with antibiotics still in her system.