Trust – it’s something that can’t be bought. The maturation of the Internet and modern communication has, in my opinion, made earning trust more of a challenge than ever.

The most venerable sign of trust was a handshake. The agricultural community knew many of those in days not too long ago. And thankfully it’s still worth something in our industry today. But anymore trust is being reduced to a small Masterlock-like padlock we look for at the bottom of a computer screen to ensure someone won’t be stealing our information, and even then we wonder if our pin numbers are safe.

Today we worry about someone stealing our identity. While at the same time the anonymity of the Internet allows bloggers and chatters to create personalities that are more fake than real. And with so many different ways to talk to, leave messages for or text someone, it’s become easier and easier to hide our own credibility behind a missed message or dead reception area.

In the handshake era, we couldn’t shuffle a responsibility to someone else or blame our inaction on a missed message. Our duty stared back at us with white eyeballs. With a live person looking us in the eye, it was harder to cover our inattention to detail and lack of follow-through. After all, it’s follow-through that is a building block for a foundation of trust.

Building trust with employees is just as critical for success in today’s dairy industry as it is to our individual reputations. Employees will seek out and remain loyal to employers they can trust. In this issue, Shaun Duvall discusses a few ideas to help dairy producers build trust with their employees (see pg. 27).


We’ve also provided some new tools for you and your dairy team to use. We’ve provided an article on parlor management for you to read (see pg. 16) and an article on the same topic for your workers to read (see pg. 6 of El Lechero, which is inserted inside this magazine). They are meant to be read separately and then discussed together in team meetings. We call them a crossover topic.

Six times this year we’ll do the same thing when El Lechero is inserted in Progressive Dairyman. I’d like to know about your experiences using the crossover topic to start a meaningful discussion with your dairy team. Please send me a note when you find any of the crossover topics helpful.

As for earning trust, I’ve met a few people who have earned my trust in this digital era. Those people answer e-mails promptly, even if they don’t know the answer to my query, and they return messages quickly, even if it’s just to let me know that they will probably be unreachable for a couple hours while they catch a plane. I’d say these people have a firm digital handshake. I’m working on mine. PD