Leading our team

September 20, 2009 07:00 PM

*Extended comments highlighted in blue.

Randy & Jennifer Gross
Elkton, S.D.
We believe we have an excellent team at Prairie Gold Dairy, but this hasn't always been the case. Building and developing our current team of employees has required trial and error, patience and a willingness to modify how things get done.

We try not just to match a person with a job description, but also to complement a job description with an employee's aptitude and interest -- and whenever possible provide opportunities for education and advancement internally. We are fortunate in that we are only 17 miles from South Dakota State University, which has directly and indirectly been a source of excellent herdsmen for us.

Having been employed in various dairy industry positions ourselves, our approach is different than some. We hire ambitious people with a passion for cows, regardless of experience, and give them a clear set of expectations and goals for their position and for the dairy as a whole.

After training, we monitor performance and are available to answer questions and share knowledge. However, once people have taken ownership of their job, we mostly stay out of their way and let them succeed.

For our milking crew, we do monthly employee meetings to update where we are with SCC levels, number of mastitis cases and any other items that are directly impacted by their job performance. It's also a time to recognize people for a job well done and discuss any work-related issues that may have come about since the last meeting. We also try to educate about not just the "how-to” portion of the job but also the "why” behind it so there's beneficial buy-in as to why we do things a certain way. We subscribe to several Spanish-language magazines and get several copies so they can be handed out to those who want to learn more about the "whys.”

Leading a team can be time-consuming and stressful but also amazingly rewarding. We've been blessed with outstanding employees who have really worked hard. Undoubtedly, we have learned as much from them as we hope they have gained from being part of our team.

Grosses' July Prices  
Milk (3.5% bf, 2.97% prt): $10.83/cwt.
Cull cows: $41/cwt.
Springing heifers: $1,150/head
Alfalfa $125/ton
Cottonseed (spot and contracted combined): $340/ton
Ground corn: $116/ton

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