Dairy Excel: How motivated are your employees?


While in a restaurant recently, I was watching the waitresses cleaning and preparing the tables for the incoming lunch crowd.

It was obvious to me there was tension between one particular waitress and the manager.

When the manager told the waitress that she was needed to help wrap silverware, she told the manager (and everyone else in the restaurant) that she had done her fair share of silverware wrapping.

The manager walked away without saying a word. Moments later the assistant manager approached the waitress and said to her, “It’s important we have teamwork around here.”

On her way to wrap silverware, the waitress passed my table and said to herself, “Teamwork my (you guess what she said). I’m here to make money!”

Attention to details. Motivating employees can be a difficult task for employers, as was the case with the waitress.

Why are some employees interested in their job and the farm where they work? These are the ones who pay attention to the details, give extra effort, and show a special interest.

Why are others turned off, show little interest in doing the extra things, and are there only to make money? These employees fail to notice that sick cow, the broken gate or a piece of equipment in need of maintenance.

The difference between these types of employees is often motivation. One group is willing to do a job; while the other is in it only for the money.

Meaning of the word. What is motivation?

It is something individuals feel within themselves. It is that inner drive often expressed in actions and involves the idea of directing energy and resources to satisfy a need.

Different things motivate different people at different times and there are many opportunities for employers to motivate employees.

Good working conditions, incentives and positive feedback are a few things that create a climate that encourages motivation.

Before you can consider ways to motivate your employees, you must first understand their needs.

Needs. Needs may be thought of in a pyramid shape with physiological needs being the foundation, followed by safety, social, esteem and self-actualization.

Physiological needs include a comfortable work environment and a fair salary or wage. Safety needs include job security and safe working conditions.

Social needs can be achieved with friendly co-workers and time for social functions on and off the job. Promotions, praise and recognition all help employees meet their esteem needs.

Finally, self-actualization is achieved by challenging work, participation in decision making and flexibility.

Remember that people are motivated to achieve their unmet needs. As the employer, you need to understand each employee and what unmet needs they have.

A different climate. How would you describe the motivational climate on your farm?

There are many factors that contribute to a workplace that encourages or discourages motivation, including the following:


* Recognition and praise

* Variety of work

* Independence & responsibility

* Participation in decision making

* Tasks/jobs that involve learning

* Good relationships with co-workers

* Being trusted

* Seeing end result of work

* Being listened to and kept informed

* Good pay


* Confusion

* Lack of trust

* Inadequate pay

* Poor working conditions

* No opportunity to learn

* Not being listened to

* Poor relationships

* Boredom

Not easy. Developing and maintaining motivated employees is not an easy task, and current economic conditions do not help.

Anything you can do to keep yourself and your employees motivated is a step in the right direction.

Are there management changes you may need to consider making? Can your employees suggest areas to improve?

I hope you can use this information to improve or maintain the motivation on your farm and limit the number of experiences described in the first paragraph.

Take time to get to know your employees and the needs they have. Doing so will provide a good foundation from which to motivate your employees.

(The author is an agricultural extension agent in Tuscarawas County and a member of the OSU Extension DairyExcel team. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)


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