When you buy a new skid loader, do you look at a bunch of different models? What about when you decide to expand, will you visit other dairies with a similar facility? How about when choosing bulls, how much time do you spend paging through sire catalogs? Chances are you spend a lot of time on these details to make sure you make the right decision.
So what about your people? How much time do you put into hiring the people who take care of these investments? And more importantly, what was your reason for choosing the person you promoted to lead and manage them?
What Are You Looking For?
When you’re hiring a hoof trimmer or a plumber, what are you look for in these people? I imagine that at the very least, you want someone who knows what they’re doing. But besides possessing basic knowledge, a proven track record is pretty important too, right? In other words, you want someone whose knowledge, skills, and experience will get you top-notch results.
So, what traits and skills are you looking for in someone who will manage your employees and deliver top-notch results?
3 Common Promotion Mistakes
- Seniority A lot of dairy owners promote employees to a supervisory role because they’ve been there longer than anybody else. Labor unions call that seniority. Sure, someone with seniority typically has a lot of experience and knows how you’ve always done it in the past. They’ve proven to be very competent and dependable in their current role, and you figure they deserve to be promoted. But the reality is that having seniority and past experience doesn’t mean someone has what it takes to lead people and/or manage your dairy into the future.
- Bilingual Another skill that seems to get a lot of people promoted on dairies is being bilingual. I get it, you don’t speak Spanish, and your employees do. So you figure that you just need someone you can speak English to, who will then turn around and tell everyone what you said in Spanish. Sounds pretty simple and logical, right? But is the ability to speak the same language the only thing you really need to be successful with people? You, your spouse, and your kids all speak English. Is every day at your house a walk in the park!?!
- Charisma Finally, some dairy owners tend to promote the person who’s the most outgoing and charismatic on the team. He’s the guy who’s always smiling, asks how you’re doing, and always tells you everything is good. It’s easy to like a person like that! But just because someone is extra friendly with the person who signs his paycheck, doesn’t mean he’s equally likeable in the employee circle. Although his personality might be genuine and sincere, most of the time his co-workers think that he gets special treatment because he’s a brownnoser, not because he’s a proven leader.
What You Really Need
What should you look for when you’re promoting someone to the role of supervisor? People skills. You need someone who’s good with people.
Ultimately, the supervisor’s job is to influence the attitudes and performance of the people who work with your cows and equipment. This one person affects the performance of almost everyone else you hire.
And that’s why you need someone who is respectful and trustworthy. A person who has earned your trust and is also highly trusted by the rest of the team to put the dairy’s interests first, not his own. You need someone who is fair and mature. A person who stays above the drama and makes decisions that are driven by performance and doing what’s right, not by personal biases and following the emotions of the crowd. You need someone who is intelligent and hard-working. A person who makes well thought-out decisions and is willing to get his boots dirty to show the rest of the team that everyone is expected to work hard and work together.
And what if you don’t have someone like that on your team right now? I recommend that you, the owner, stay in that role and continue managing your team until you develop someone who demonstrates the skills and traits that are needed to be a good supervisor.
The reality is that managing people is a learned skill, just like trimming feet and plumbing. The more someone does it, the better they’ll become at doing it on a daily basis. Just as you wouldn’t let anyone with a grinder near your cows’ feet, you shouldn’t allow just anyone to lead and manage your team.