Your management philosophy translates into your thinking framework and behavior, impacting your management style. One way this impacts your dairy is by influencing how you work with people and their overall engagement – which translates directly into productivity and return on investment for you.

Estrada jorge
Leadership Coaching International Inc.

Never have we had such direct ways to measure employee engagement as we have today. Gallup’s Q12 is a simple yet powerful and affordable tool to measure the impact of management on engagement.

I will briefly review how each of Gallup’s survey questions and statements measure employee engagement, data from Gallup’s own research and provide some commentary about the questions based on the results I’ve seen from the application of these principles in dairy businesses.

How satisfied are you with your company as a place to work?

People who are satisfied with their dairy companies are proud of where they work, are more likely to stay and are advocates for their companies as good places to work. People who are extremely satisfied with their companies tend to do many extra things (going the extra mile) that positively influence their workgroups’ performance.

Overall satisfaction relates to other outcomes, such as retention, productivity, profitability and, to varying degrees, customer engagement.


The stability expressed in overall satisfaction likely results from an accumulation of daily events that create a general impression of a company.

So to differentiate a bit, engagement is a function of specific management behaviors; satisfaction is an accumulation of many experiences over time.

I know what is expected of me at work

How clear are your employees about what is expected of them? This is very critical to dairy performance. Yet about half of American workers are unclear about what they are supposed to do at work.

Because so much of a company’s efficiency depends on the seamless combination of personal responsibilities, the first element of great managing is job clarity. And when do employees gain this clarity on your dairy?

Well, as early as the first day, including day one orientation and on-boarding and training that occurs in the first few days or weeks of a job.

Groups that have high scores on this item are more productive, more profitable, even more creative.

The greatest drawback of this element is that managers assume the simplicity of the statement means the issue requires only a basic solution: “If people don’t know what’s expected, I’ll just tell them.”

For your dairy employees, “knowing what’s expected” is more than a job description. It’s a detailed understanding of how what one person is supposed to do fits in with what everyone else is supposed to do and how those expectations change when circumstances change.

I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right

When dairy managers ask employees to accomplish a goal but do not provide them with the necessary resources or materials, credibility is lost. Great dairy managers discover the needs of each dairy employee in relation to the outcomes they are attempting to achieve and position resources accordingly.

Those workgroups for which materials and equipment are managed most effectively average higher customer engagement and higher productivity than their peers. They also have significantly better safety records, and their employees are less likely to flee to other organizations.

The secret is in the involvement, judgment and action of front-line managers. Less-engaged workgroups typically say they were supplied the standard tool kit in a standardized fashion, like: “Here’s what you get. Make the best of it.”

The most engaged employees say their manager made what turned out to be relatively minor accommodations, aggressively petitioned for more expensive tools when the business case was strong and was generally vigilant in looking for new ways to make his team more effective without the employees having to ask.

At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day

As we have discussed before, having our employees fit on the right seat on the bus is important. The most powerful benefit a manager can provide his or her employees is to place them in jobs that allow them to use their talents, skills and knowledge to build the company.

Matching a person to the right job, or a job to the right person, is one of the most complicated responsibilities any manager will face.

For the manager, it begins with a simple question: Who would excel in this assignment? But the more a manager dives into that question, the more it spreads into aspects such as: What makes someone succeed where others fail? Is it something innate, something learned, or does it require just trying harder?

Can excellence in a certain role be learned? How fast and how much can people change? Can a job candidate be molded to fit the needs of the position, or is what you see during that first interview what you get?

To get the most from your team, you must help each employee mold their job around the way they work most naturally, maximizing the frequency of work experiences in which they lose themselves in the work, are internally motivated and determine themselves to be naturally gifted.

In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work

I am sure you have asked yourself at some point: “How much recognition does an employee need?” And that is usually followed by: “But can’t we give too much recognition?”

Gallup’s data show that the key to effective recognition is that it is honest and based on outcomes that are measurable.

The right answer to “how much recognition” is once every seven days. Once every seven days, all employees should be individually recognized or at least told that they have done a good job or that they have set a record. And you can never give too much recognition if it is honest and deserved.

We have a challenge here, since in the perception of employees generally, praise is largely absent from most companies. What would your employees answer when asked this question? Many employees not only rank this aspect low, they add: “My best efforts are routinely ignored.”

Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they will leave their company in the next year. A large, multi-company analysis puts the average benefit of such a shift in recognition at 6.5 percent greater productivity.

Because of the power of praise, its ridiculously low cost and its rarity, this element of management is one of the greatest lost opportunities in the business world today.

My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person

Gallup’s studies show that caring can be translated into, “Caring means setting each person up for success.”

It has been well documented that a productive workplace is one in which people feel safe around their leader and around each other – safe enough to try new things, to challenge the status quo, to share critical information, to support each other and in which everyone is prepared to give the manager and the organization the “benefit of the doubt.”

None of this is possible if team members do not feel cared for. Relationships based on trust and respect are the social glue that holds great workplaces together.

There is someone at work who encourages my development

For this work, “development” does not mean “promotion” or that each team member gets what he or she wants. It means helping individuals find roles or positions that fit their unique combination of skills, knowledge and talents. This development requires commitment, from both the manager and the employee.

Each employee in your dairy is a unique individual. Each person may need or respond to development differently. Having a mentor is fundamental, part of the unwritten social contract workers anticipate when they are hired. For mentoring to be effective, it must form naturally.

On dairies, a worker’s manager is usually first in line to fulfill this role, but there are many others who can perform the job who can also be mentors.

At work, my opinions seem to count

It may surprise you to know that Gallup’s extensive research of employee engagement and successful teams finds no significant correlation of compensation/bonuses to either productivity or employee engagement. However, having “opinions that count” does correlate to these outcomes.

Managers who value an individual’s opinion will receive a higher return than managers who establish a relationship between work in exchange for money. This shows how groups will not function well when team members feel insignificant or irrelevant.

The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important

In general, employees want to believe in what their employers do. This element measures how much an employee identifies with his or her dairy’s mission and purpose.

Excellent performance occurs when people are deeply attached to a sense of purpose in their lives. This element focuses on maximizing individual and group contributions by appealing to employees’ larger sense of purpose and mission.

Top-ranking teams in Gallup’s engagement database on this element average from 5 to 15 percent higher profitability than bottom-ranking ones. Mission-driven teams suffer 30 to 50 percent fewer accidents and have 15 to 30 percent lower turnover.

My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work

To what degree do employees on your dairy feel their teammates are committed to quality? Employees look to their left and right and gain awareness of work standards and of their team members’ performances. Adherence to high standards must be developed and arranged by a talented manager.

The best managers foster in their teams an environment of honest and complete communication, an understanding of each other’s work and respect for each other’s efforts and results. Contrary to that, do employees see the presence or absence of one or more slackers?

Generally, people who feel part of a solidly committed team are routinely safer, better with customers, less likely to quit and more productive.

Your job as a manager is not leaving employees in a position where they can’t maintain the same levels of effectiveness as the rest of the group.

I have a best friend at work

Gallup’s research indicates that workplaces in which employees report having a “best friend” are more efficient than workplaces with fewer best friends. This element deals with optimizing group contributions by enhancing the quality of relationships between employees in the workplace, in turn nurturing trust and emotional loyalty.

You would think this statement has nothing to do with engagement, but in fact it predicts performance. Something about a deep sense of affiliation with the people in an employee’s team drives him or her to do positive things for the business that he or she otherwise would not do.

Research on workers in various settings has shown that friends are more likely to invite and share candid information, suggestions and opinions, and to accept them without feeling threatened. Friends tolerate disagreements better than do those who are not friends.

The good feelings friends share make them more likely to cheer each other on. Friends are more committed to the goals of the group and work harder, regardless of the type of task.

In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress

Each employee excels in at least one area. But too often, dairy managers prefer to focus on areas that need improvement instead of areas of excellence. Gallup’s research shows that greater gains are made by building on talent as opposed to trying to improve weaknesses.

When both the manager and the employee identify a task at which the employee truly excels, they can work together to create a development plan that supports the individual’s full learning potential, positioning the employee to make his or her greatest contribution to the organization.

When a manager is regularly checking in with an employee, she is more likely to consider herself properly compensated for her work, more likely to plan on staying with the company and more than twice as likely to recommend the company to others as a great place to work.

This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow

The need to learn and grow is a natural human instinct. One way employees can learn and grow is to find more efficient ways to do their jobs. The best managers know an organization’s growth depends on employees’ capacity to learn and grow.

The best teams are never quite satisfied with current ways of doing things. They always strive to find better, more efficient ways to work. Where there is growth, there is innovation.

Employees who have an opportunity to learn and grow at work are twice as likely as those on the other end of the scale to say they will spend their career with their company. When employees feel they are learning and growing, they work harder and more efficiently.  end mark

Jorge Estrada