Turning Your Parlor Team into a Power Team
As consultants, dairy owners, and managers we frequently discuss the milking parlor, routines, parts, sanitization, let down…the list goes on and on but our efforts could all fade if we don’t gain compliance with our milking technicians. Often I ask myself, what is the best way to implement changes, gain compliance, and have a power team in our milking parlor? There are a few key factors to explore when you want to create a power team in your parlor.
It sounds cliché, but leadership is a key factor to a functioning power team in the parlor. Leading with integrity and passion are essential, but it goes beyond that; it is communication and listening skills, conflict resolution capability, encouragement of education, and the art of acknowledgment. To have a power parlor team we must have leaders who are capable of these skills.
Mundane to Exciting
How do we create excitement over the mundaneness of a milking routine? Often repetitive jobs get boring, or time pressed and protocol drift occurs. Frequently explaining the science behind what we do in the parlor can create buy-in and interest, therefore changing the climate of the mundane job. Truly I am a believer in having someone in a leadership role on the dairy with a “woo-woo” personality, these are your leaders who will get the group excited and built up.
Often when we want to make improvements on farms, we will offer a monetary incentive (an example would be lowering somatic cell and giving added money to an employees check when it goes below your goal SCC). Personally I do not like monetary incentive, they are hard to take away and non-tangible. I like to use the roof and beer metaphor to better describe this: if I needed to re-roof my barn on a hot summer Sunday and I offered my friends $30 each to help me it wouldn’t sound like a great deal. Yet if I told them to come over, help out, and I will feed you beer and grill steaks it starts sounding like a better deal, why is that? It’s about an experience! Good examples for non-monetary incentives for your employees are: gift cards, boots, hats, and team lunches.
Implementing change and growing buy-in can be difficult and there are many ways and resources to help us on the dairy. There is a laundry list of key factors to explore to turn your parlor team into a power team. Leadership, Mundane to Exciting, and Non-monetary incentives are a good place to start to achieve your goals.