Build trust with Hispanic workers through communication

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Editor's note: This Practice Builder was contributed by Butch Cargile, veterinarian and nutritionist from Twin Falls, Idaho.

What are the hallmarks of a successful relationship?

  • Trust.
  • Good reciprocal communication.
  • Tenure.

Trust or, more aptly, faith is the most basic foundation of any relationship whether it is husband-wife, parent-child or employer-employee. Trust will replace faith over time as the actions of partners in a relationship build confidence in the expected actions of the other. But, initially anyway, we begin with blind faith that we will be treated in an equitable manner by the other person or entity in our numerous lifetime relationships.

This is especially true when working with people coming from feudalist or totalitarian cultures. The agricultural industry of the United States employs a large percentage of the immigrant population from Central America. This is not news to anyone concerned with the production of food. These immigrants have fled their countries in search of the opportunity to improve their plight. In order to convert faith into trust, every action must reinforce the idea that the employee truly has the opportunity to improve himself.

Only with good communication and the time necessary to convert faith into trust can a successful relationship come to be. Good reciprocal communication is the basis of efficiency in any organizational or personal relationship. The most efficient, powerful organizations in existence are also the most efficient at communication from top to bottom. The old axiom that knowledge is power is mostly correct. It is information that truly yields power. One must look no further than J. Edgar Hoover's 48-year term as director of the FBI and its predecessor to understand this fact.

So, what kind of information can yield power when one is attempting to obtain beneficial business relationships with a population to whom English is a second language? Obviously, the first asset, or piece of information, that comes to mind is the mastery of the language of the people with whom you are attempting to communicate. Put aside the political and social debates and know that it is much more feasible that one person with a decent formal education should be able to more easily assimilate a foreign language than a mass of people that may, or may not, have completed a high-school equivalence. Nothing in the business world is more useful than the knowledge that what you are saying is being understood.

Just as majestic trees take decades to mature, so do interpersonal relationships. The practice of good communication will allow a relationship the time necessary to develop.

In the author's experience, the primary cause of dismissal, which ends the timeline of a relationship, is lack of effective communication. That is not to say that all employees are truly employable and only a lack of communication leads to someone's termination. In fact, the lack of top-notch people available for employment in the dairy industry, and agriculture industry as a whole, magnifies the importance of being able to hold on to those outstanding employees that might otherwise quit or be dismissed because of a simple misunderstanding.

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