Review what employees learned at offsite workshops to retain information and build confidence

Building on what we learn is only possible if employer and employees together talk about what was learned. Try it!

How many parents have asked their kids "How was school today?" only to get an answer of "Okay," and no more conversation? Maybe that was you who responded that way.

I had a conversation with a dairy farm owner who asked his employees about a meeting he had sent them to and got an answer of “lunch was great.” Well, that’s nice, but that’s not why he sent them.

Recently, MSU Extension put on Calf Care Schools at two locations with a total attendance of around 55. Of those, approximately 90 percent were dairy farm employees or non-owning family members. In many of those cases, the owner sent the employees, but did not accompany them.

If you are an employer, it is important to you that employees become more knowledgeable and that the operation becomes better because of their attendance. Therefore, your interaction with them after such a workshop is critical in making that happen. The questions you need to ask have to get to the heart of what was learned. Try these questions out when employees come back from training or educational sessions:

  • What was something that you learned today different from what we are doing?
  • What struck you as being one of the most important points they made in the session?
  • Did anything you heard surprise you?
  • What change do you think we should make based on what you learned?

When we ask employees questions like those, then we make them partners in improving the operation. When we make them partners in improving the operation, then we get greater commitment by them to the business.

But before you ask a question like that, however, you need to be open to make the changes they suggest. It won’t do any good for your relationship with them, and their investment in the business, if you disregard what they say.

The point of education is not increased mental capacity; rather it is changes in the person and changes in the operation that apply knowledge to get better results.

If you are an employee, then try a different line in response to what may not be the best questions. For example, if you come back from training and the question is “how was it”, be prepared to list some specific things you learned and several specific recommendations.

Let’s be about working together, employees and employers, to make the operation better. That takes humbleness, boldness and thought. But the results will be worth it!

Oh, and if you are a parent, try some different questions with your kids, too. How about one of these:

  • Did you learn anything today that adds some direction to your thoughts about a career?
  • What did you learn today that might amaze us?
  • Will you share something that a teacher said that you don’t believe?

I’m no expert in getting teens to talk, and maybe these questions will bring the same old responses, but relationships are worth the work of building. Dr. Bob Milligan of Dairy Strategies, LLC told us at the MSU dairy labor management conference in February to make every interaction an opportunity to build relationships, whether that is with family, employees or even, employer! Now look up, there is an interaction headed your direction!

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