I was recently reading an article by Joshua Becker within which he described being out for a walk and then seeing a line of ants crossing the sidewalk that he was traveling on. He stated, “As I was watching, I noticed one ant carrying a leaf. And then I noticed another. And then another. The ants carrying the leaves were walking the same direction, and seemed to be keeping up, but the longer I watched, the more I noticed they were walking a little slower than the others… All I noticed was that some of the ants were walking peacefully while others were carrying a heavy burden. And it reminded me a little bit about life. Sometimes we walk peacefully. But other times, life requires heavy lifting.”
So, I’d like to ask you one question: Who’s doing the “Heavy Lifting” in your operation, and have you thanked them recently?
There is so much “buzz” today about the benefits of automation and the impact that will have on your labor force. I agree that it is clearly the wave of the future, and its benefits are astounding. But what if you can’t automate some functions in your operation or what if you feel you cannot afford to automate, i.e., it appears to be cost prohibitive?
In that case, you need to identify an alternative approach. Find those people in your work force who are an excellent example of what you want in every employee and use them as a model. If they have skills that you wish all your employees had, use them to teach the others by example. This process will improve the overall skill set of your Team, AND you will definitely build that employee up by literally recognizing his or her superior skills.
Likewise, the next time an employee comes to you asking for a raise, provide them with a check list of skills and ask them if they can do each and every one of those tasks. If they cannot do all of them, have them learn how to do the new tasks. Again, two things will happen. Your work force will be better trained, and they will then be worth more to your operation, allowing them to boost their income.
Do you know the future roles of your employees? Are there opportunities to grow and/or be promoted? This is huge for employees. I know you’ve been focused on your next expansion or banking issues, but remember that, just like a dog sled team, “The scenery only changes for the lead dog!” Help them define a clear path forward. As Luke Miller, DVM, recently stated at the Western Dairy Management Conference in Reno: “If you can’t trust your Team, it’s your fault, not the employees. You either hired the wrong person or provided them with no training, both of which are the fault of the employer.”
I suggest, while you are studying ways to automate your operation, think about the development of your best employees, as outlined above.
I will leave you with one final thought: Who do you need to thank for “doing some heavy lifting” in your operation?
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