Positive Power at Work

Published on: 18:27PM Sep 01, 2010

Copy of EPBC Gibsen 11 09 047By Ron Gibson, Gibson's Green Acres, West Weber, Utah

Gibson milks 1,400 cows at his dairy near Ogden.

Great employees are the foundation of our business. I am always impressed with the pride and dedication that our employee’s possess. 
Fourteen years ago, we hired our first full-time employee and began the transition from doing all of the work ourselves to relying on others to help us succeed. It has definitely been a work in progress, but I would like to share some of the things that have helped us in this transition. 
Quality employees: It seems like every day I get people coming to the dairy looking for work. Luckily, the majority of our workforce has worked for us for more than 10 years. On the rare occasion we are looking for someone to hire, most of our employees know of someone with experience to refer to us. I then interview the person to get a feel for his/her skills and personality.
Motivation: Competitive wages are always the main motivation for employees. However, my experience has proven that the best way to motivate employees is by making sure that they know I appreciate them. I am fluent in Spanish and therefore can communicate well with our Spanish- and English-speaking employees. Building a trusting relationship also aids us in communication and motivation. They know through my words and actions that I truly appreciate them and their families.
Training: My goal is to hire people who think. All dairymen know exactly what I mean by that. I want people who can find solutions and take ownership in their responsibilities. Training is vital to the success of our farm and the confidence of our employees. New technology is very important on a dairy operation, and I try to make sure that my employees have the correct tools and education to be successful. We make sure our employees receive correct training and understand the concept of why we do what we do. A new employee is partnered with an experienced employee for a period of weeks to learn his/her responsibilities.
Retaining: I expect a lot from my employees and they feel the trust I have in them. This allows them the freedom to make decisions for the overall good of the dairy. They then don’t feel micro-managed, and I am allowed to do the things that I need to do to manage the operation.
I never want anyone to work for me who is not happy in his/her position. That is not good for me or them. If there is a better opportunity for someone than they have with me, then I encourage them to make the change. However, I hate to lose valuable employees, so I do everything I can to make the working environment positive for everyone.