By Trisha Wagner
Employee management is one of the most important jobs of today's dairy farmer; as success in getting the job done is largely dependent on how well a farmer can do that through the help of other people. Hired workers, regardless of origin, boost the strength of the state's dairy industry and also enable dairy farmers to take vacations and have some time off during the day to attend their children's sporting events or other community activities.
Additionally, immigrant workers and their families bring their own joy, skills, and ambitions into Wisconsin, breathing new life into the state's rural communities. Moreover, farmers report difficulties finding U.S. - born workers willing to fill dairy farm jobs, while Latino immigrants have become an increasingly important part of Wisconsin's dairy industry and rural communities.
While becoming fluent in another language may be unrealistic in the immediate future for either dairy farmers or their employees, being aware of basic cultural norms can greatly improve communication and overall effectiveness with employees of different backgrounds, especially when the cows can't wait for you to learn Spanish. In fact, it is not enough to simply translate a list of words or instructions for milking or feeding cows. You must also address the cultural differences. Understanding these differences can be equally, if not more important that the vocabulary itself.
Understand cultural differences in employer/employee relationships.
*In many cultures, individual acknowledgement or attention is considered undesirable. Therefore, an employee may hesitate to discuss an issue because they fear being viewed as the source of something negative. Keep in mind that for some employees, who are "living under the radar" this can be especially true.
*Not only can this apply to problematic situations but also to instances where an employee is recognized positively. If you want to provide incentives, consider what is valued most by your employee, and evaluate how recognition of one may affect relations among a group of employees.