Farm managers and employees’ roles can be aligned with those of coaches and players for a sports team. These team dynamics can either build a favorable game plan, helping to retain employees, or become a place of dysfunction and turnover.
According to Stan Moore, a farm business management educator at Michigan State University, employees are 1.7 times more likely to stay working at their current place of employment if they have a strong relationship with their manager. Reversely, the top reason for employees leaving a position is their relationship with their immediate supervisor.
Employees are the second-highest expense on a dairy, so retaining them is vital. Like a good coach, the first step is to be present. Even a few minutes a day interacting with each employee in their workspace can be a chance to observe their work methodology and create meaningful dialogue in a nonthreatening atmosphere. These interactions are key to building a trusting relationship.
“Create a culture where employees see you, you are looking for their ideas, you are coaching them on protocols, and you are helping them understand what goals you are trying to achieve, stated Moore during a Dairy Science Digest podcast. “That type of coaching, that type of being present, makes a huge difference on their satisfaction, and their interest in staying and recommending the farm to others.”
Employees are attracted to a business because of reputation, just like players are attracted to a winning program. Managers, like coaches, are responsible for teaching protocols and procedures and allowing for questions. In a dynamic like this, it becomes more natural for employees to share feedback, ideas, and feel valued, leading to higher employee satisfaction.
Moore said there are three demographics of employees that managers may have to encourage to share their thoughts and ideas. Hispanics, women, and new employees tend to be reluctant to give opinions, not unlike players who are nonstarters. They are valuable and still need to be heard, but they can often be in the background to more seasoned staff.
When teams are successful, not only is retention higher but it also appeals to more qualified potential employees. Turnovers and bringing in new hires always create a shift in the team dynamic, which can be stressful if this process is happening frequently.
Just like during a game, the manager’s mindset and desire to win drives those who they are coaching. This, in turn, can create an employee that brings their mind and body to work, explained Moore.