As dairies have gotten bigger and more diverse, the need for a reliable workforce has only expanded. That means proper training and effective motivation to do a job well is more important, too.

Most training is based on the presumption that everyone thinks rationally, said Ian Ohnstad during the National Mastitis Council Annual Meeting. The milk quality consultant said we think that as long as we give clear explanations that are backed up by data, the information will “click” for our employees.

“That protocol assumes we all think the same and are all motivated the same,” Ohnstad described, “but we’re not.”

Motivation is either external or internal. External motivation drives us to reach a reward or avoid a consequence, while internal motivation pushes us to do something because we find it interesting, enjoyable, or otherwise rewarding.

Internal motivation lasts longer and is more sustainable, so Ohnstad said that is what we want to develop in our team members. To do so, however, we must adjust our training to meet their characteristics and internal goals.

Ohnstad described that there are five types of employees that are internally motivated by different things:

The perfectionist is motivated by achieving high standards and feeling good about their performance. They are hard-working, passionate, and make sacrifices to perform well, but they may be easily frustrated. Ohnstad said these employees will be best managed by providing a clear vision, giving meaningful feedback, and respecting their skills.

The results-oriented workhorse wants to be seen doing well by others and is motivated by public praise. They are often extroverted and competitive and gauge their performance by their colleagues’ reactions to their work. Manage these employees with continuous feedback, public praise, and allowing them to be involved in setting goals.

The focused workhorse, on the other hand, is motivated by the inner satisfaction of performing at a high level and focusing on particular problems. They are generally introverted, work well alone, and seek perfection. With these employees, Ohnstad said managers should provide focus on specific tasks, inspiration, and looser management.

An equilibrium employee is motivated by doing a good job and working well as part of the team but highly values work-life balance. They want to be focused on a task and have a well-organized work day so their life outside of work can also be successful.

Finally, a worker is simply motivated by a paycheck. They see the job as the means to an end, Ohnstad described.

He encouraged farmers to know the type of people they have on their team in order to deliver more targeted training that highlights what their employees care about. “If everyone has a different motivation, one-size-fits-all training won’t work,” he described.

Though training in smaller groups will take more time, employees will be better able to ask questions, more motivated, and more likely to retain the information longer.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2024
February 29, 2024
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