New year brings new focus on employee appreciation
December 23, 2014
As 2014 comes to a close we will find ourselves reflecting back on the past year and starting to look ahead to 2015. Goals and resolutions will be made for the coming year whether they are personal, for your farm/ranch or for your ag-related business. Losing weight and getting in shape has become one of the most popular New Year's resolutions over time. Good intentions are set, but history tells us that this resolution is not often maintained very far into the New Year.
However, I challenge you to make a resolution that you do hold throughout 2015. What is this resolution? It is showing appreciation to your farm/ranch employees. Hopefully you took some time during the holiday season to thank your employees for their dedication and work to your operation over the last year, and I'm sure many of you did. But once Jan. 1, rolls around and the New Year begins, it seems we are back to the very busy schedule that comes with agriculture. Calving is not far off, cold or snowy weather can make chores take longer and more difficult and this is just to list a few items on the regular TO DO list. Soon as an employer we forget to take the time to appreciate employees on our team, who are putting in the long hours and helping to make our business successful.
Employers fall back into the routine of an annual or semi-annual employee review, where they try and remember all the things the employee did over that time period, and may wrap up the discussion with a "thanks for your work."
Why not challenge yourself in 2015 to thank or recognize your employees at the time they do something right or something that exceeded your expectations than making them wait and wonder if you noticed their efforts. How much more productivity do you think you will get from your employee if you recognize their efforts on a more regular basis?
Making a difference with appreciation
When I think of appreciation I remember an experience I had about this time last year. It is not necessarily agricultural related — but left me with an important take home message and focuses on just how important our actions and words are.
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In my example, I was in the process of contacting two national hotel chains to discuss gifting points from one person to another. My goal was to gather information over the phone from the customer service representatives to understand the process to transfer the points. I dialed up the first hotel chain and started to explain why I was calling and provided information such as account numbers, etc. Right away, I could tell the person on the other end of the phone was either not having a good day, or not going to be easy to work with. The attendant was abrupt, seemed confused about my question and I started to wonder if the persion really wanted to help me. The individual made me repeat my information several times and each time the tone was more pointed. In fact, I did my best to keep my calm to get through the call and gather what information I could. When the call ended I took a deep breath and said — I hope the next call is not like this one.
Next, I dialed up the second national hotel chain and right away got a friendly voice. I explained, in the exact same manner as I did to the first company representative, why I was calling and started providing the information. The person was polite, professional and a breath of fresh air. Not once did she raise her voice at me or make me repeat what I was trying to do. She actually took the time to reiterate my request to make sure she understood it correctly. When the process was nearly complete I said the representative, "I did this exact same process with another national hotel chain just five minutes before and I barely could stay on the phone — the person was unpleasant to deal with so I want thank you for your courtesy during this process." I expected a — 'well, thank you back', but instead I got more, she went on to say, "I learned a long time ago, you treat people the way you want to be treated." Wow, I was impressed, this person definitely understands customer service and how appreciating the people she is communicating with will make a difference in her job and the customers' attitude that day.
This example shows appreciation and kindness can go a long way. Productivity will not occur from negativity. Showing your appreciation when your employee(s) do a good job and at the time they do so, will make the entire working environment more productive. Good luck aiming for this New Year's resolution in 2015.
B. Lynn Gordon is the SDSU Extension Ag Leadership Specialist.