Holding a managerial role as a millennial can be intimidating and rewarding. Over the past few years, I have progressed into a management position at my family farm. Like any position, you learn a lot as you go.

I had managers in the past on both ends of the spectrum – ones I really enjoyed working for, and others, not so much. I have used those experiences to help myself become a better manager. While I’ve made a lot of mistakes and am still figuring things out, I recognize it is all part of the process.

These are five things I have learned and try to keep in mind daily:

Lead by example

I can’t expect any of my employees to be motivated, organized, on time, etc., if I’m not. The mentality, “If they don’t care, why should I?” is contagious. I believe people will feed off your energy and work ethic.

Be open to new ideas

I have eaten a piece of “humble pie” before; realize you don’t know everything. Sometimes things seem so clear in your own mind, but take time to listen to everyone’s ideas. You might be surprised how easy finding a solution can be when you just ask for help.


Know your place

I may have a manager title, but I’m not better than any one of our employees. It takes every position to keep the farm running. There is a list of things to be done every day; if it needs to be done, just do it – even if that means taking out the trash or scrubbing the toilet.

Stay calm

Take time to assess the situation before reacting. This isn’t always easy, but you will thank yourself later. When things get crazy, I try to think through all the options. It is what it is; it’s done. What do I need to do to fix it?

Keep things light

We are all there to work, but it doesn’t have to be all business all the time. Have random pizza parties or grill out on a Friday afternoon to celebrate a birthday or a somatic cell count goal reached. Talk about non-farm topics with your employees, too. I believe showing them they are valued as more than just an employee makes a big difference.

Mistakes will happen, and learning opportunities will occur. More than anything, I just try to be the type of manager I would want to work for.  end mark

The Dairy Strong Bloggers series is brought to you on behalf of the Dairy Strong conference, Jan. 23-24, 2019, in Madison, Wisconsin. This event focuses on cutting-edge technology, cultural trends and the future of the dairy community. Learn more and register at the Dairy Strong website.

Mikayla McGee is a fifth-generation dairy farmer from Baldwin, Wisconsin.

PHOTO: Photo courtesy of Dairy Strong.