10 Tips for Managing Dairy Farm Employees

By: Adam Peffer


1. Hire carefully. Hire attitude; Teach skills. You are better off with an employee who has a good attitude and really wants the job than one with a bad attitude who may be more knowledgeable and experienced. An employee with a good attitude can be taught how to do most anything. But an employee with a bad attitude will be hard to train on anything.


2. Establish standards in the workplace. Communicate your expectations. Make it clear what is expected from how they handle cows, to how they do their job.


3. Provide training. Constantly be in a state of training. Offer opportunities for growth and development both professional (within your dairy) and personal (within their personal life).  Your behavior as a manager sets the tone for the dairy. Be careful to model the behavior you want employees to mirror. If you yell at and beat cows, so will you’re employees!


4. Recognize and reward good employees. Use a multitude of different ways to recognize and reward the employees and behavior that make your business successful.


5. Weed out poor performers. Firing is an unfortunate but necessary task. Retaining poor employees drains productivity and moral.


6. Ask for employees’ input. Dairy employees know what is really going on. Ask for their feedback.


7. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Communication has often been said to be “the key to success”. Establish regular but brief meetings to keep employees informed and engaged.


8. Deal with problems now not later. Do not delay in addressing a problem. With a positive tone, discuss the issue privately with the person and then, if appropriate, communicate a policy to the entire staff.


9. Develop strong processes. Create detailed, clear, and precise protocols and job descriptions.  Cross-train employees in multiple procedures on your dairy so anyone can be replaced. Teach your assistant manager or assistant your job.


10. Treat employees consistently. Problems arise when staff members are treated differently for vacations, overtime, holidays and pay. Develop an employee handbook that clearly establishes the policy for everyone and be consistent in following it.












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