CENTER FOR DAIRY EXCELLENCE
DAIRY DECISIONS CONSULTANTS
THEIR NO. 1 PRIORITY
Without support of the people you
depend on every day, accomplishing
your other priorities presents even
By Christopher Barton, DVM
This past year, I’ve had the good fortune
to be a member of a transition team working
with a well-managed, successful dairy farm.
The team is working together to help this farm
plan for sustainable, managed progress into
the future. The aim is not to address immediate
concerns, but rather, future goals.
At the outset, family owners representing
two generations were asked to prioritize their
top three areas of focus for successfully con-
tinuing the life they love – dairy farming.
What did they identify as their ﬁ rst priority,
and why? They chose their employees. For my
part, I gave them a standing ovation!
FYI ■ Dr. Christopher
Barton, DVM, is
one of two Dairy
tants for Employ-
ees (DDCe) with
Center for Dairy
0849 or visit www.
Why? Put simply, their
concluded that without
the invested support of the
people they depend upon
every day, accomplishing
their other priorities would
present greater challenges.
While the owner/
employee relations on
this farm are very good,
the owners’ desire was
to make that relationship
even better, especially as
they considered signiﬁ cant
change in the coming
years. They wished to
maintain a stable, educated
and valued employee team,
gladly arriving to work
each day, because they
enjoy their responsibilities
and feel valued as team
1) Motivation for working
2) Need for recognition
3) Team approach in
4) Quality and frequency
5) Safety of working environment
6) Workplace scheduling
7) Most appealing aspects
8) Opportunities for improvement
members contributing to a common goal.
Having worked closely with everyone con-
cerned for many years, I accepted the responsi-
bility for evaluating the good, the less desirable
and the possible areas of change for the better.
To assure objectivity, the owners and I
developed a rubric designed to assess employee
feeling, thoughts, and suggestions (see box).
Prior to my meeting with them individually,
each person was provided a copy of the rubric
and reassured as to the intent of our meeting. I
then averaged about one hour with each of 10
employees to more fully understand their feel-
ings and input. After meeting with everyone, I
summarized the results for each area, and then
added my observations and suggestions before
sharing the results with the owners.
Essential to all of this was strong reassurance
and strict adherence to complete conﬁ dentiality.
As the owners said at the outset, “Being told
what you are doing correctly is great, but what
we really need to hear are those things we are
not doing that perhaps we should be doing, and
those things we are doing poorly.”
I CAN CONCENTRATE ON MILK QUALITY
BECAUSE MY COOPERATIVE FOCUSES ON
WHERE THE MILK TRUCK IS GOING.
Hauler Bob Meendering (l) and DFA Member Rick Bousquet (r)
MORE CONNECTIONS TO MORE MARKETS.
THAT’S MORE COOPERATIVE.
Running a dairy is more than a full-time job, so it’s nice to have a partner who’s as
dedicated to creating secure markets as you are to producing quality milk. From
on-farm services to milk quality initiatives, Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. has
more ways to ensure your success. And that’s what makes us More Cooperative.
South Sioux City, Neb.
See what More Cooperative can do for you at www.dfamilk.com.
June 2012 EASTERNDAIRYBUSINESS
Valuable experience for all
This experience has been invaluable for all
of us. The employees appreciated being asked
and being heard, and the owners gained insight
into other perspectives. The owners received
essential feedback and positive suggestions for
change; some of which has already been imple-
mented. And I learned from everyone involved.
It reafﬁ rmed this universal truth: “If we are
open to it, each and every person we meet has
something to teach us.” ❐