Ineffective management of employees on a farm, ranch, or a feedlot can impact an operations’ bottom-line and the overall working environment for other employees. Wayne Fahsholtz, CEO and President of Padlock Ranch located north of Sheridan, WY, discussed this topic as one of the presenters at the 20th Anniversary of Cattlemen’s College held in conjunction with the 2013 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Convention and Trade Show, Tampa, FL. Fahsholtz was one of three speakers that presented on the topic of ‘Transferring to the next generation and managing employees.’

Padlock Ranch raises over 11,000 calves a year on nearly 500,000 acres across Wyoming and Montana therefore, as president of the ranch, Wayne has hired and managed many employees. At times the ranch has over thirty full-time employees and up to 40 seasonal workers.

Fahsholtz has served as president and CEO since 2002 and takes great pride in finding the right employees for the right job, but what he has learned has also come from many years of experience and trial and error. Probably the main lesson he has learned is that you need to hire for attitude. “I used to think about the skills we want and need for an employee, but often times it’s not the skill we need, it’s the right person,” commented Fahsholtz. Finding that right employee with the right attitude is what has seemed to pay off in the long run.

When it comes to communicating with employees, Fahsholtz believes feedback and timely feedback is critical. He said you must be continually giving feedback to your employees, it does no good to recognize or reward an employee or on the other hand discipline an employee long after the incident has happened. In other words, Fahsholtz, is not a believer of once a year reviews, keep the communication flowing all the time. Over the years, he has developed a formula for feedback, which is S - Situation; B – Behavior, and I- Impact. When giving an employee feedback, describe the situation, describe the behavior of the employee in relationship to the situation, and then explain the impact this has to the operation. Additionally, Fahsholtz emphasized that it is important to have five times more positive feedback than negative feedback.

Another lesson learned during his time at the helm of Padlock Ranch to studying the success you have had in hiring employees and what the outcome has had on the organization. Fahsholtz uses what he calls, ‘The 333 Approach’, to study his hiring success. He describes that you take your three best employees and your three worst employees over the past three years and see what it was that maybe you missed during the interview of the poor employees or what stood out from the best employees. Use this information to learn as you move forward in the hiring process. In closing, Fahsholtz has a phrase he keeps in mind, “Hire the problem solvers, and not the problem bringers.”

Source: B. Lynn Gordon