Figuring that you already have a relatively disciplined, accountable team, there is one thing you can do to help make your people even more productive. When something breaks, fix or replace it – right away.
Yes, it’s that simple. Fix things fast. And why is “fixing things fast” so important? There are three reasons:
- It’s a lot harder to work with broken, worn-out tools. Nobody likes to struggle with equipment and tools that don’t work. Whether it’s a milking unit with a rope that’s hard to pull down, a hose that leaks all over somebody’s pants, or a skid-steer attachment that keeps falling off, your employees are the ones stuck with these frustrations every day. Daily jobs turn into dreaded chores. That’s what your employees have to look forward to every time they clock in. Until you fix things, your employees are stuck with inadequate equipment and tools that are annoying to use, making their jobs become harder. Faced with the pressure to finish on time, many employees will choose to cut corners. Or worse, they’ll just use the broken equipment as an excuse for not doing the work at all. Ultimately, your employees can’t focus on doing quality work when they’re struggling with defective equipment.
- It shows how much you care about your employees and the work they do. What message do you think you send when you don’t fix things? It communicates that you don’t care, often creating resentment toward the boss or your maintenance guy. That’s probably not the message you’re trying to convey. Maybe you’re ignoring repairs on purpose, because you’re trying to punish carelessness, communicating a message of “prevention.” In other words, you figure that by not fixing something right away, you’ll “teach” your employees a lesson about taking better care of things. That might work. But in the end, you’ll actually pay for it twice. Not only do you have to eventually pay for the repair or replacement, you also have to pay for the inefficiencies and shortcuts that occur while you’re “teaching them a lesson.” If you’re still determined to create a teachable moment, here’s a quick tip. Tell your team that you’re sick of their carelessness and you’re not going to fix “whatever-it-is” for two weeks. If you don’t tell them specifically what you’re doing and the time frame they’ll have to put up with it, chances are they won’t realize you’re “punishing” them. Instead, they’ll just think you don’t care. And when employees think their boss doesn’t care, neither do they. On the other hand, when your employees see that you care about them and the work they do, most “solid” employees will return the favor and take care of you.
- It influences how your employees think about you and your dairy If you’re committed to making repairs right away, you’ll influence your employees’ attitude about their job, about you, and about your dairy. Instead of cursing their boss every time they use something that doesn’t work, they’ll have everything they need to do their job. Their work will be easier, and morale will improve. And since your employees will see that you’re quick to respond when they ask you to do something for them, they’ll have no reason to drag their feet when you ask them to do something for you.
Yes, fixing and replacing things costs time and money. But so does not your decision to not fix things. You can either give your employees equipment that works, or make them put up with tools that don’t.
Fix things right away. It’s good for your employees, and it’s good for you.