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Labor Matters

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Experts cover today’s key dairy labor issues and offer fool-proof techniques to optimize employee performance, sat­isfaction and longevity.

One Strategy for Correcting Employees at Work

Jun 08, 2012

Try this in your milk parlor.

Duvall, Shaun pro photo 1 11   CopyBy Shaun Duvall, Puentes/Bridges
 
In my last column, I talked about the reasons to adopt a positive attitude on your dairies. Placing the focus on the positive rather than the things that go wrong is a big advantage. Assuming that your employees want to do the right thing rather than assuming they are out to get you makes your life and theirs much better.
 
What are the advantages to you of adopting a primarily positive outlook? Let’s spend a little time examining that.
 
The most important thing first: Think about yourself. How do you feel when a consultant or banker or someone else gives you only negative feedback?
 
It doesn’t feel so good, does it? Telling you the things you are doing incorrectly, and not recognizing what you do that is good. It either makes us feel defensive, like, “##$$&&*, I am doing a good job,” or the proverbial tail between the legs, “Wow, maybe I really am not that good.”
 
Both of these responses are useless. The first makes you refuse to look at how you might improve, and the second makes you refuse to look at what you might be doing well. Both raise your stress levels, and don’t help you be a better producer. Over time, it sets up a really negative mindset that colors many decisions you make.
 
I say these things because they affect people in many walks of life the same way. Just because you are a dairy producer doesn’t mean that yours is the only industry to be convinced of the importance of adopting a negative mindset. It is just that negative begets negative. Once you get in that rut, it is hard to get out of it.
 
So, I might suggest the following: The next time you want to make a correction in the parlor, focus first on what they are doing that is correct. Let’s say that they are connecting units too soon. I might suggest that you first say that you know they are trying to work in a speedy way, and thank them. Then say something that you have observed that they do really well. Say they get excellent coverage dipping the cows. Tell them that, reiterate how important that is, and how that has maybe saved you X dollars in milk quality or whatever. Tell them you value their hard work, and ask them then, could they please do you a small favor? Ask them to please follow the prep procedure so that the cows aren’t being milked too early.
 
In other words, look first at what they are doing really well. Stress that, and make the correction the small thing and the recognition of something well done the big thing. Just reverse the order.
Try this for a few meetings, and see if you AND your employees don’t walk out of that meeting feeling much more positive and much better. You might find that your job is much more enjoyable, and you’ll smile more, and work and stress out less.
 
I’d love to know how this works for you. Try it and email me! Let me know: shaunjd@tds.net.
 
Puentes/Bridges is a nonprofit organization that, under Shaun Duvall’s direction, promotes cultural understanding, particularly in the dairy industry. Duvall also operates SJD Language & Culture Services, LLC, a translation and interpretation business. For more information, contact Shaun Duvall at shaunjd@tds.net or (608) 685-4705.
 
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