Often times, calf managers will focus on nutrition and the general well being of the calves. With that being said, could communication between employees improved to help increase efficiency of calf management?
A few important questions to consider regarding communication in a farm:
Is there a proper system for employees to report problems?
Are employees aware of their specific role in the farm?
Do employees feel comfortable raising a problem?
How is the line of communication between employees and managers maintained?
Does the employee understand what authority they have to make decisions?
There could be a communication problem if you answered "no" for most of these questions. In order to improve communication, it is important to hire the right people, stick to the protocols and acknowledge employees' contribution when they do good work.
Hire great people
Having the right people is crucial for calf management. It is best to hire someone that is kind, gentle and patient to feed colostrum to newborns. On the other hand, a fast paced, detailed oriented person would be well suited for putting out bottles for calves.
A good farm manager must balance the immediate needs as well as emergencies on an operation with long term goals in mind. One of the decisions that will affect the long term prospect of the farm is to assign the right person for the right job.
Sticking to protocols
Sometimes, it is normal to accept deviation from ideal procedure. This usually happens when managers stray away from standard protocol and a new standard gets passed from employee to employee. It is crucial for the new protocol to be a working document so that when changes are made, they are well document and thought through. Another important thing to consider is having a structured training process and evaluation of current methods to help prevent future miscommunication. While creating training process for re-evaluate current methods, it is important to involve employees in the process. Engaged employees will often be satisfied in their jobs and stay at their jobs for a longer period of time.
For example, many calf operators will use nipples on bottles to feed calves. Often times, employees will carry a nipple or two in their pocket with a large opening so that fluid flows faster. However, this is not ideal as it is not sanitary or following standard protocols. With that being said, the employee might not be aware of the protocol for handling calf nipples or why sanitation is important.
Sanitation, feed, water bucket management are a few examples of where communication can go wrong. Managers should encourage employees to communicate often and share ideas or report anything that goes wrong as this will improve communication and hence improve efficiency of calf management.
Offering incentives for quality work is one way to appreciate the quality work of your employees. Never underestimate the power of telling them they did a great job or thanking them for their good work. It is often times more meaningful than other forms of recognition. If an employee feel that he or she is not appreciated, they will feel unsatisfied with their work and may resign quickly.