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Management Brief: Loathe to Praise

September 8, 2011
By: Jim Dickrell, Dairy Today Editor

When done correctly, praise boosts credibility

Many front-line managers and crew bosses are reluctant to offer praise to their employees, fearing that doing so will reduce the respect the employees have for them.

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"About 15% of my audiences, either farm owners or supervisors, regardless of cultural background, have an almost pathological resistance to giving praise," says Gregorio Billikopf, a labor management specialist with the University of California. "Even those who agree to give praise have problems doing so."

Failure to praise can be counterproductive. "Workers will pay more attention to the suggestions of supervisors who notice praiseworthy work," Billikopf says.

The key to giving praise is to do it correctly. Praise should be given when specific jobs are done well, not given out simply because a supervisor likes the employee, notes Charles Contreras, a labor management specialist with Pfizer Animal Health.

By being specific in your praise, you reward the specific good act of the employee. But that does not imply the employee has no room for improvement.

Essential to all of this is having well-defined protocols for tasks such as milking and preparing colostrum. The protocols ensure that jobs are done the way you intend them to be accomplished.
If the protocols are correct and followed each time, good things will happen. Milk quality will be consistently high; newborn calves will have higher IgG levels.

These results are worthy of praise. And if results are not achieved, it’s an opportunity to revisit the protocols, retrain and reinforce the need for consistent compliance.

Using this system of praise will not elevate one member of a crew over others. Because it is tied back to protocol compliance, it reinforces the message that protocols are in place for a reason and must be followed.

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FEATURED IN: Dairy Today - September 2011

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