Every employee needs their employer to answer two questions: What performance is expected of me, and am I meeting expectations?
To fully answer these questions, employees need timely, high-quality feedback from their employers to know what they are doing properly. It also requires prespecified quantified performance expectations to compare with the actual performance. Having a job description isn't enough. Employers need to tell the employee in a timely manner if they are adequate in their role.
For example, an employee on a dairy farm milks cows twice during a shift. They completed the task. However, is the employee following milking procedures that the employer expects? Is milking completed in a timely manner?
Implementing measurable goals can help both employers and employees answer those two questions.
When setting measurements for employee success, employers need to ensure they create accomplishments that can directly be measured every day. Employers should provide as much clarity and description as possible when establishing the measurements for employee success. Additionally, measurements should ensure success for both the individual and the farm, with the end goal being for everyone to succeed.
When writing employee measurements, farms should assign a timeline to finish or complete the project. Depending on your operation, this timeline will vary. A tractor could take three days to fix, feeding hogs might take an hour, and so on.
Measurements should also detail how much production per the specified time, such as the expected number of acres harvested per day.
Lastly, measurements should detail the quality of work expected and how to thoroughly complete the job. For example, this could include protocols for parlor cleaning after milking, or routine maintenance for the combine.
As you work with employees, make sure they have the opportunity to provide input and ask questions, too, so they understand why they need to do a job a certain way.
Learn more about how to be a great farm supervisor on the University of Minnesota Extension Ag Business Management website and in the U-M blogs, available at Managing a farm, U-M Extension.
Roberts is an Extension educator in agricultural business management with the University of Minnesota.