Good to Great - Team Work
What makes a good producer great? Over the next few weeks we will be covering 5 key qualities that push good producers to be great producers. These qualities can be applied to everyone from the back-yard farmer to those with large calf ranches.
The first quality we will be discussing is teamwork. Working together as a team is very important for success. Each team member should feel valued and know the importance of their job. Communication as a team is crucial in problem solving, and overall success of the operation. I had the pleasure of visiting with Shilo Hawks, the manager at Three Rivers Calf Ranch in Parma, Idaho. Here are some thoughts he shared regarding teamwork on his operation.
Question #1: Who is on your team?
Shilo’s Response: As far as employees go, I depend on every single one, even the newest guy scooping grain to the calves. No position is too small or too big to be part of the team.
We also have 2 nutritionists that are a big help in management and reaching our goals for calf growth. Our veterinarian is also very important to our team, as well as a few other consultants and sales people we work with. Each one has different skills they bring to the table to help us excel in different areas on our operation.
Question #2: How do outside team members help your operation succeed?
Shilo’s Response: It kind of depends on the capacity they are in. For example, I understand basic things about nutrition, but I don’t have the understanding or the know-how to feed calves to reach optimal performance. Our nutritionists are very helpful in making that happen.
Other consultants we work with contribute by taking from their past experiences as managers themselves or with working with other operations. They all bring different ideas to the table, sometimes the ideas won’t work for us, but it is still good to learn from other’s experiences or even tweak their ideas to produce our own protocols.
Question #3: How do you communicate as a team?
Shilo’s Response: I try to use the 3 area supervisors under me (grain, water, milk) to help me communicate to their teams. This works best because the workers will address issues through the supervisor rather than going straight to me, the manager. I then observe and make sure that things are going as they should. If there is a problem then I will correct it and adjustments can be made. Any issues will be addressed as a team in a training meeting, otherwise communication goes through a hierarchy, so employees have ownership.
Communication with off farm team members is a little different. We usually try to get together after preg checks and nutrition walk through’s. We also do a lot of communicating through texts and email reports. This way if we are struggling with an issue we don’t have to wait until off farm team members come for their next farm visit to address them.
Question #4: As a team how do you set goals and measure results?
Shilo’s Response: Honestly, we are not the best atsetting goals, or communicating results with the employees. This is really an area we could improve on.
We do set goals with our nutritionist and they are usually along the lines of average daily gain, and implemented with ration changes.
It was a lot of fun to hear Shilo’s thoughts on teamwork! Be watching for more interviews about the key qualities of Good to Great over the next few weeks!
Written by Mariah Gull, M.S.