Management: Follow the ‘raffle rule’

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If you’re part of a dairy’s management advisory team, you know people management can be difficult. Tom Wall, who owns Dairy Interactive LLC and Language Links LLC, has a simple rule to help keep a dairy team on the path to success.

“Follow the ‘raffle rule’,” Wall told participants at the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association’s 2014 annual conference earlier this year. “You have to be present to win. You can't just call it in.”

Wall works with dairy owners and managers as “Dairy Coach”. His clients frequently tell him that cattle management is much easier than people management, yet they pay far less attention to the “people” side of the business.

“Management doesn't stop with ‘I told them, they know what to do; I can check it off and go do my job.’” Wall said.

The people management path is always uphill, with frequent forks in the road.

“Ideally, everybody should be walking together on the same path. But in reality, about 20% will be in the lead with you; 70% will be in the middle and could go either way; and 10% will not be with you at all,” he said. “Keep everyone on the path toward the goal you're trying to achieve as a team or company.”

Wall outlined five key principles as part of a successful people strategy:

1) Clarity. Put expectations in writing to reduce uncertainty and chaos. Provide job descriptions, protocols, SOPs, policies and rules. Employees frequently see alternative paths that are easier or cut corners and time.

2) Communicate. Key ingredients to successful communication include being honest, sincere, detailed, specific, timely and frequent. Be positive and compliment; or provide correction. Employees who aren’t corrected think you don’t care, or that they are doing okay.

3) Connect. Good employees want to feel connected on a personal level. They want to be respected and appreciated. Employees have family stresses, and they want to make a living.

4) Manage. Follow the raffle rule. Be present, be picky with what you expect, and be predictable. Call out poor performance, and praise good performance. When it comes to discipline, follow through and follow up with what you say you're going to do. Be consistent and predictable, and correct procedural drift.

5) Recognize. Recognition is not limited to reward. Pay attention and pay for performance, differentiating between good and poor performance. Pay for what you value. Don't pay people for showing up, which is what you're doing if you don't pay for value. Connect raises to job reviews and performance; don't make them equal and automatic.

Wall said he is seeing a trend where more dairy employees are becoming "lifers".

“Good people want order, respect and opportunity,” he explained. “They want opportunity; they want a place to come to work and stay. Nobody wants to go to work knowing it is a dead end. At the end of the road there has to be something for them.”



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