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Using employee feedback as a means to improve employee management. Employee management. Increased importance of employees in larger dairies Daily care of animals is performed by employees. The degree of success of the business depends on the management of employees.
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Employee management • Increased importance of employees in larger dairies • Daily care of animals is performed by employees. • The degree of success of the business depends on the management of employees. • “Engaged” employees perform better.
Engaged: a connection between an employee and employer which results in that employee giving Voluntary effort. Charles Contreras ZoetisPeopleFirst • Employees that work to get the desired results, not just to do the job; • Employees that take initiative or ownership; • Employees that are trustworthy; • Employees that have a positive impact on the team as well as on the business;
Employee management • But if there is an area of management that dairy producers, in general, like least, it is employee management. • There is little training available to producers in this area.
Managing Dairy Employees More Effectively • Project designed to improve employee management through employee feedback • Phil Durst, Stan Moore, MSU Extension Dairy Educators, & Felix Soriano, APN Consulting, LLC • Grant from USDA NIFA, North Central Risk Management Education Center
Contract with farms after explaining program • Have owner(s) & manager(s) complete survey of what they expect employees will say • Employees provided with a copy of the questions (English or Spanish) and interviewed via phone when they called • One bi-lingual interviewer • To date: 9 farms, with 176 employees • 139 interviews (79% response rate) • We look for common themes from employees
Project goals: • Help dairy owners & managers understand employee’s perspectives • Help owners & managers on these farms change their management to increase employee engagement • Help other producers through educational programs based on what we learn.
We hope to follow-up and see what changes they have made and see if there is a change in one of several measures: - employee turnover rate - labor cost/cwt of milk - number of cows/employee
Areas employees are asked about: • What they like most/least • Teamwork with co-workers • Knowledge of farm goals • Equipped to do the job • View of supervisor • Their commitment to learning and the business • Whether they get performance feedback • If they think of ways to improve the business
Main problems identified to date: • Underestimating employees’ desire to learn • Failure to provide training • Failure to specify goals • Failure to provide specific positive feedback • Employee-to-employee problems and lack of communication • Perception of unequal treatment of employees
1. Underestimating employees desire to learn Q: How would you rate your interest in learning? (scale of 1 – 5) 1 = I already know enough to do my job 5 = I am interested in dairy and want to keep learning.
Q: How would you rate your interest in learning? 4.72 (across 139 employees)
Q: How would you rate your employees’ interest in learning? 3.35 (16 owners/managers) When we underestimate the interest of employees in learning, not only do we provide less training, but maybe we think they are less capable of learning.
2. Failure to provide training Q: How often do you receive training to improve your skills? 1 = Never 2 = Only when I started 3 = Once a year 4 = Every 3 months 5 = Once a month
Q: How often do you receive training to improve your skills? 12% Never 36% Only when I started 22% Once a year 17% Every 3 months 13% Every month
3. Failure to specify goals (or KPI’s) Q: How well are the company goals communicated to you? (scale of 1-5) One farm to illustrate: Average rating: 3.55 3 replied “1”: I have heard nothing about farm goals 5 replied “5”: I know very well what the farm goals are 1 replied “4”
Q: What are some of the farm goals that you remember? (of those who relied “4” or “5”) • “Never heard about that” • “Keep clean the machines and milking room” • To do what the owner teaches us and not to change it” • “Follow the owner’s rules” • “Better milk production. Cleanliness” • Milk the cows and keep everything clean. They told me what I should do and what I shouldn’t”
Employees want to know where the business is heading: • “They just tell me what I have to do, not farm goals” • “Each day they just tell us what we have to do and that’s it. We don’t have any kind of information.” • “All the companies usually put (up) charts (with the company goals), but here there is nothing. We come here like donkeys to do what we are told to do.”
Making employee full team members We believe that in order for employees to be full team members that they need to know both the goal (or KPI) and the performance.
4. Failure to provide specific positive feedback Q: How often do you receive feedback (good or bad) about your work from your supervisor? 1 = Never 2 = Maybe a few times a year 3 = Every 3 months 4 = Once a month 5 = At least once a week
Q: How often do you receive feedback (good or bad) about your work from your supervisor? 8% Never 31% Few times per year 12% Every 3 months 25% Once a month 24% Every week
Comments: • “Negative = 5, Positive = 1” • Feedback is always negative, our job is (always) wrong. • “Positive – never; Negative – every week” • “It seems that we never do a good job” • “We normally don’t get stuff like that”
Q: In the last 15 days how often have you received recognition and praise for good work? 1 = Not once did he/she recognize what I did well 5 = He/she praised and thanked me at least several times in the last 15 days
Q: In the last 15 days how often have you received recognition and praise for good work? 37% Rated it 1: Not once in the last 15 days 5% Rated it 2 13% Rated it 3 19% Rated it 4 27% Rated it 5
5. Problems between employees • Rate your Relationship with supervisor: 4.40 • Rate the Teamwork within the dairy: 3.74 • Communication problems between shifts • Good employees want others to work hard • Employees see it as the manager’s role to hold employees accountable.
“There are some co-workers that don't do much hard work. They are always waiting for somebody else to do it. There is no communication.” • “Certain people that are not working with each other. You can feel the tension.” • Q: What would you change? “Be more serious on who they hire, check their background.”
Employee to employee relations • Employer can’t force people to like each other, but they do have a role: - Involve employees in the interview process - Facilitate communication between shifts - Emphasize teamwork and helping each other, even at the end of a shift. - Hold employees accountable for results and methods.
6. Perception of unequal treatment • Family members vs. nonfamily • Hispanic vs. non-Hispanic • Employees that had been there awhile vs. new employees • Crops crew vs. cattle crew It is the responsibility of the manager to hold all employees to the same standard.
Areas for management improvement • Establish Key Performance Indicators in every area of the operation. • Communicate KPI’s • Tie training to KPI’s • Training needs to be frequent • Training needs to be progressive • Employee feedback needs to be relative to KPI’s
What we’ve learned from farm employees: • Employees can reveal the strengths and weaknesses of management • Employees can help us understand how to increase their engagement • Employees show us the roots of turnover and lower productivity
Dairy owners and managers can profit by listening to their employees: • Managers need to be humble enough to listen • Managers need to be wise enough to take it into account and act on it.
Questions? Thank you! Phil Durst MSU Extension email@example.com
Funding provided by the North Central Center for Risk Management Education and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture under Award number 2010-49200-06200.