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Six Tips for Developing Your Production Team

Kent Bang
Educational Opportunities: 
Grain, Dairy, Swine, Beef, Young, Beginning Farmers, Specialty Industries
Home > Education & Events > January 2016 > Six Tips for Developing Your Production Team

When margins are tight and times get challenging, we tend to put attention on lowering costs and making the most of the situation. We talk a lot about how to reduce costs in terms of inputs, with a focus at the barn level.

Below are six ways to develop your team to improve quality and productivity.

1. Empower Workers

Your employees are the ones who are immersed in your production processes on a daily basis, so empower them to develop ideas for improvement. Let them detail their daily activities and perform the analysis. Once they look at how they spend their time, ask for ways they would recommend to perform tasks faster and eliminate waste. Also, if they work together to solve issues and improve processes, they will become better teams and engage more readily in the work.

2. Eliminate Valueless Processes

Are there processes that are inefficient or provide little or no value to the operation? Maybe it's a repetitive task or overlaps with another’s job responsibilities. I don’t think that we have many valueless processes in this industry, but maybe the timing in which we focus on tasks causes us to redo all or part of the task.

3. Improve Training

Giving employees development opportunities may help eliminate poor production. Investing in proper training for new hires can eliminate mistakes that are costly and ensure that the work is being done right the first time. If the unit manager is not the best trainer, find someone in the organization with the experience and talent to train others in the production process.

4. Establish Goals

Establish both productivity and quality goals for your team to help keep them focused. Post goals on a dashboard in the barn office and keep it up-to-date so that the entire team understands how they are impacted by the daily work. Goals should be specific and measurable and include more than productivity targets. Make sure the team understands how their functions impact the goals (this is often wrongly assumed).

5. Implement Gradual Changes

This is difficult for many owners/managers who want to make massive changes when things aren’t going as planned. Rapid, wholesale changes can frustrate employees or cause them to worry they won’t be able to adapt. An abrupt change can also significantly reduce productivity due to the effect of the learning curve.

6. Recognize Success

Follow the process and recognize those who are taking the lead to help reduce cost, improve process quality, and provide training and motivation for new employees. In our busy workday, it seems like those opportunities have to be looked for in order to provide positive feedback and recognize those employees who are dedicated to success.
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