“I’ll just do it myself”, the words usually uttered after an employee is falling short of meeting performance or metric goals on a dairy. This is the last thing we want to say especially with the current issues of labor shortages. Many times, when an employee isn’t “measuring” up they have not been provided the tools needed to perform their job. I don’t mean literal tools like a screwdriver or hammer (although sometimes that is the case).
Let’s look at ourselves as the leaders of our dairies and self-evaluate where we could do better.
- Did we provide proper training along with clear expectations of the employee’s position from day one as well as ongoing. Employees cannot read minds, nor do they have the experience that we do to make the proper judgment calls. If we are placing the power to make decisions in their hands, we cannot be upset when mistakes are made. These mistakes can be used as areas for growth. Ongoing training is essential to keeping your dairy running as effectively and efficiently as possible. Ultimately, the employee is only as good as the training they are receiving.
- Do we have metrics or KPI’s in place to record and monitor trends and are they posted in a common area for everyone to view. These recorded trends should be used as an opportunity for discussion and improvements. As leaders we need to identify the weak spots in our team’s performance. Usually, our plates are so full that we struggle to see the forest through the trees, but the numbers never lie. Often times when I go to a dairy to assist with training and troubleshooting, the milkers (or even the parlor leaders at times) have no clue that things are falling apart or are not acceptable. Many do not understand what SCC is, what it means, where it comes from, or what their dairies current SCC is. Providing this crucial information to our teams whether daily, weekly, or monthly depending on what metric we are talking about, is going to motivate and help hold everyone accountable. It may even create some healthy employee engagement that we didn’t know we lacked. Have conversations with your employees and make sure they know what to do, how to do it and what the outcome should be. Providing feedback is an important step in helping your employees grow.
- Could we be doing something to help make things better. Do not assume protocols and practices should always stay the same, sometimes change is needed. If we are not willing to listen and make changes employees may not be as willing to share feedback. Employees may be stuck between the reality of their work, and expectations that are outdated and archaic. As a leader take time to demonstrate what you are expecting from the employee and make sure what you are asking is reasonable. Not only will this allow your team to see what is possible, but you may also learn how to improve the system.
If proper training and tools have been provided to the employee and they still are not meeting the goals and expectations, then it is probably time to cut ties.