Regular performance reviews can be a daunting task.
by Ali Enerson, Hoard's Dairyman Special Publications Editor
Feedback. Our society craves it, depends on it and thrives on it. Why then, is it so hard for farmers to provide regular feedback to employees?
Knowing that your employees are the most important asset to your business is the best place to start. The time you take training employees and the knowledge each employee possesses is valuable to you and your business' bottom line. You truly value it when there's employee turnover, and you reteach a new employee.
In reality, the majority of employees want their manager's feedback, both positive and constructive. Providing that feedback as situations arise, daily, weekly and monthly will only strengthen your professional relationship with your employees. As an added bonus, these regular interactions will make your annual or biannual reviews much easier and less intimidating for both the manager and employee. Fostering open, honest communication with your employees will form respect for leadership and demonstrate the attitude and example you want on your farm.
The first step is for the management level to get on the same page about employee performance reviews. Each manager needs to agree reviews are beneficial, promise they will perform the reviews constructively and execute the reviews regularly.
Have a plan
Just like buying new equipment for your farm, do your research. Ask your neighbors what works well for them and research other businesses with great employee retention and satisfaction. Develop a plan and a short interview form that works for your operation. Keep it simple.
Stick to the review schedule you set. Don't just talk about doing reviews. Tell your employees when their reviews will be done, don't surprise them. Let the review work both directions, listening to your employees' feedback will present areas for training and improvement as well.
Make it your goal to be the best manager and mentor you can be for your employees. Nothing trains better than setting a great example.
Check your review process and objectives against this paper from extension.org to compare metrics for successful performance reviews.
The author is the special publications editor, responsible for books, plans, distribution of the e-newsletter and various internal communication pieces. She grew up on a 60-cow dairy in northwest Wisconsin, and is a graduate of University of WisconsinMadison with a degree in life sciences communications.
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