By: Don Tyler, Tyler & Associates
Winston Churchill was admired for his persistence and optimism regardless of the circumstances. He was quoted as saying, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.” Tough times can sap anyone’s energy and challenge their passion if they aren’t protective of their daily attitude.
I once had a dairy farmer in Texas share that during a time when they were going through challenging market conditions, he realized that he was being a bit testy with his employees and overly demanding. He decided that since he had one of the best parlor managers in the industry, he should just keep out of that area for a while and focus on other parts of the business that actually needed his attention. After two weeks he decided to revisit the parlor and upon meeting the manager there, the manager told him, “Hey… we noticed that you haven’t been down here for a couple weeks. The employees and I just wanted to say… Thanks!” He got the message and learned a valuable lesson the affect that his attitude had on his employees.
During tough financial situations, it is important to realize that our emotional state can determine the attitude of everyone else in the business. True, they should be able to manage their own emotions, but when they are looking to the boss for leadership they will follow their bosses’ lead concerning attitudes as well.
Studies show that employers and employees both have fears during tough times, but that those fears are different.
Employers fear that the employees may learn too much information—or incorrect information—about the situation, that their best employees may leave, and that employee morale is worse than it actually is. Employees fear losing their jobs, the well-being of their coworkers and their employer, and have a general fear of the unknown. For this reason, employers need to be as open and honest as possible with employees, be fair to all employees, find ways to reduce employee stress and make sure that family members are treated equitably as well.
Every type of agricultural production goes through cycles. It’s the nature of commodity production. The challenge is to maintain the same level of focus and perspective when prices are high as when they are lower.
Key points to remember:
• You set the tone of the entire operation. If you are focused and positive, your employees will tend to follow suit. Avoid the tendency to complain daily about markets, costs, personal frustrations or other woes that your employees cannot have any affect on.
• Challenges build teamwork and camaraderie. Watch to see who is invested in the team and which employees just look out for themselves in tough times. A good friend of mine who was a fighter pilot in the Viet Nam War once told me, “Nothing builds camaraderie more than being shot down in the same airplane.” If people can’t work together during challenging times, they may never understand what it means to be a part of a team.
• True loyalty also reveals itself during these times, so make a note of those who stick with you and raise their own performance level. In the long run, these employees are worth a greater investment of your time and developmental resources.
• The lessons learned during these times need to be recorded and shared with future generations. Take a few notes and be willing to share them when the time is appropriate.
One of my most interesting clients once said, “Never pay tuition twice for the same class.” He knew the cost of not learning important lessons in a timely fashion so that they were never repeated. The wisdom that he gained during all economic cycles was woven into his daily decisions and he became an industry leader that many others admired. For assistance with these and other employee management issues contact Don Tyler; Tyler & Associates, at 765-523-3259 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org