Beef Tips

Category: Management Minute

August 2018 Management Minute

“Five generations in Today’s Workplace”

By Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

I recently learned that there are approximately five generations currently in the American workforce. I would add that since farmers and ranchers don’t often retire and the kids start doing chores at an early age there could possibly be up to six generations involved in the day-to-day activities of a farm or ranch. These generations are somewhat loosely defined across different sources as 1) WWI and WWII generation (born ~1901-1926); 2) Mature or silent generation (born ~1928-1945; 3) The Baby Boomers (born ~1946-1965); 4) Generation X (born ~1965-1980); 5) Millennials (born ~1980-2000); and 6) Generation Z or Centennials. All of these groups have defining characteristics and ideals that make them unique. There is a tremendous amount of differences between these generations, if we consider that Granddad may have been raised in a world with limited electrical conveniences, and the millennial grandson has never experienced a world without computers or mobile hand-held communication devices. Have you given any consideration to the different age groups or generations that currently make up your workforce? Have you updated your policies, procedures or verbal expectations to include modern means of communication such as texting? For example, if a family member or an employee is going to be late, is it acceptable to send a text? If it is a more formal organization, what about training materials? Millennials and the Generation Z’s (coming soon) likely prefer and are more engaged in something they can watch over printed material.

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at

July 2018 Management Minute

“The New Hire”

By Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

You have decided to bring a new person into your organization. How do you bring them on-board and get them up to speed with how your organization operates? Do you have a formal training process or do you simply put them to work and hope the new team member is a quick learner?

Regardless of the size of your business or operation, training new people is important. The onboarding process sets the new hire up for success from day one and is an essential component of employee retention. Some surveys suggest that approximately 30% of new hires will leave their current position within 6 months. Lack of job training or a poor on-boarding process are some of the most common reasons cited for leaving an organization. Good employees are hard to find. Creating a strategy for training new employees that teaches them how to do their job and how your business operates (including ethics, culture, etc.) is well worth the effort.

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at

June 2018 Management Minute

“Fatigue and Stress”

By Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

Summer is here and along with it comes the long hours that coincide with planting, grain harvest, putting up hay, or shipping cattle. Long hours in the workplace often lead to fatigue and stress, which both have serious consequences. Fatigue in the workplace is one of the leading causes of workplace accidents. Stress is a normal emotional response but it is associated with a number of negative outcomes. Short-term consequences of stress include headaches, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating and short temper. Chronic stress may result in insomnia, anxiety, hypertension, heart disease, obesity and depression. Therefore, even though we have to “do the work when the work has to be done” it is important to give our employees and ourselves opportunities to de-stress. Those opportunities can take many different forms, short breaks, leaving a few minutes early, or taking everyone to town for lunch. Although, it may take more time to get the work done, or all the work might not get done (it rarely does anyways), it might be time well spent if it prevents an accident.

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at

May 2018 Management Minute

“How Do You Evaluate New Technology?”

By Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

Technology is everywhere, even in agriculture.

I am continually surprised by the number of operations that don’t use established technologies with well-documented, positive economic returns. These are successful operations, and thus I often leave the conversation thinking, “This is a good operation, how good could they be if?” On the other end of the spectrum are operations that have implemented multiple new technologies. Some technologies resulted in positive managerial and economic outcomes and some did not.

As a manager, what is your attitude toward technology? Do you critically evaluate new technology or do you dismiss new technologies with excuses like “that’s probably too expensive” or “that won’t work here” without any further evaluation?

Evaluating new technology is difficult, but technology isn’t going away. Thus, the ability to critically evaluate, implement and assess new technologies will become an increasingly important skill of a successful manager.

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at

April 2018 Management Minute

“It’s not Always About the Money”

By Chris Reinhardt and Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

If you have an employee who seems to continually be bothering you about not being paid enough, there are usually two possibilities: 1) You’re a tightwad and you’re not paying them enough; or 2) the person is disgruntled about their role in the organization. To find out if the answer is No. 1, make a few phone calls to managers you trust in your general geography and find out what your neighbors are paying for similar jobs in your industry. If you’re within 50¢ or so per hour, then move on to answer No. 2. Some people are just better employees than others are. If this person is worth more than the ‘scale’, you had better pay more to keep them.

But “pay” can come in many forms. You can “buy” an employee’s loyalty and general job satisfaction with many perks other than another few cents or bucks per hour. Make sure your insurance, savings investment, and/or profit sharing plans are at least in line with the industry. This is especially important if this person has a family to look after. Non-monetary benefits include things like flexible time off. Those early mornings and long days are a lot easier to take if a person knows they can take Thursday afternoons off for a child’s ball game or whatever.

What about goals? Have you asked your employee what they want out of this position? They may want to move up in the organization or have opportunities for a management role elsewhere. You can be selfish about this or you can take on the role of mentor and teacher. By taking care of your employee and training them for a leadership role they will most certainly be a better employee, and will have a harder time leaving for a different job. And even if they do leave for a different opportunity, they will give such a glowing report on your leadership and team approach, you can be certain to find a good, young person to replace them.

The question you need to ask yourself is “Do you really want this person around for the long haul?” If you DO, take some time to privately evaluate your plans, and then take some more time one-on-one with this employee to find out their long-term needs and goals. If you DON’T want this person to remain in the organization, you still need to get your plans in order because after you inform this person they are not what your organization needs, you’d better have a pretty good plan set up to attract a quality person to replace them.

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at

March 2018 Management Minute

“Is Agriculture a High-Risk Occupation?”

By Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

Most of you reading this are likely involved in agriculture in some capacity. Do you think of being a farmer or rancher as a high-risk occupation?

The reality is that farming and ranching is a dangerous, high-risk occupation. A 2017 report from the U. S. Department of Labor contains some staggering statistics and emphasizes the need for safety. There were 5,190 fatal work-related injuries in 2016. Additionally, this is the first time that more than 5,000 fatal injuries have been reported since 2008. In 2016, farmers, ranchers, and agriculture managers were the second greatest civilian occupation with regard to fatal work-related injuries; with 260 reported fatalities in 2016. Sales and truck drivers had the greatest number of fatal work injuries (918). The leading cause of injuries was transportation incidents (2,083). These statistics are sobering. Agriculture can be dangerous business, and many times our daily activities put us on the road hauling commodities, equipment and livestock. The need for safety in our industry is real and present; don’t be complacent about your safety and the safety of those around you.

The full report from the U.S. Department of Labor may be accessed at

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at

February 2018 Management Minute

“Continuing Education”

By Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

As a manager or small business owner, “what’s your policy on continuing education for your employees…do you have one?” If an employee comes to you and asks for time away from the operation or business to attend a three-hour seminar on a topic that is directly relevant to what he or she does would you support it? Would you pay for the seminar? Would you compensate the employee for the time away from the job? If you do not have an existing policy on continuing education, it may be something to consider. Now that millennials make up the workforce, the data clearly indicates that it is going to take more than just a steady paycheck or salary to keep them engaged. Allowing employees to attend seminars and expand their knowledge often benefits the organization. Individuals who have the opportunity for professional development reportedly experience greater job satisfaction, are more engaged and committed to the business than those who do not. Additionally, allowing your people to pursue continuing education opportunities demonstrates that the business is willing to invest in its people. If you don’t have a policy in place, give it some thought. For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at

January 2018 Management Minute


by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist

Leadership and management are evaluated by an organization or operations’ successes. However, the path to success often involves failure. Everyone hates to fail. However, failure is an excellent teacher and the simple truth is that we learn more from our failures than we do our successes. One of the traits many successful people possess is that they did not let fear of failure exceed their desire to succeed. History is full of leaders who were quite familiar with failure. However, when they made a mistake, they learned from it, moved on and didn’t let it happen again. Additionally, great leaders in the business world recognize that department or unit managers don’t always succeed and that failure is an unfortunate, but necessary component of empowering and cultivating good managers within the organization. “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” – Robert Kiyosaki, author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”- Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb.

December 2017 Management Minute

“Effective Leadership”

by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist

The term leadership is simply defined as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization” or the “ability to lead other people.” History has given us a number of examples of excellent leaders who have motivated groups or organizations to accomplish tremendous acts against overwhelming odds. Pick one. Any leader of your choice; what made this individual a great leader? Could we concisely come up with a list of traits or characteristics that made this individual an excellent leader? Now pick another. What made this individual a great leader? Do your two leaders have anything in common? What made these leaders effective? Although leadership has been the focus of tremendous study and numerous books, we still don’t understand it. It’s complicated. I would contend that the one thing all great leaders share is that they helped those they were leading get better and accomplish bigger things than those individuals thought was possible. As a leader, “what are you doing to help your people get better at what they do?”

November 2017 Management Minute

“What Makes a Successful Team in the Workplace?”

by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist

Most of us have had some experience with being part of a team. What makes some teams more successful than others? The tech giant “Google” has invested a great deal of time and resources into studying teams and reported ( that their most successful teams have the following traits. Successful teams

  • Establish psychological safety within the team. The team creates an environment where all members of the team feel free to bring new ideas forward to the group.
  • Are dependable. The team holds its members accountable, getting things done on time and up to the standards of the group.
  • Have structure and clarity. The members of the team know their role in the team and have a clear vision of the team’s structure and the expectations associated with their role on the team.
  • Have a purpose. The team members believe that what they are doing matters.

A wealth of information on building teams and characteristics can be found with a simple internet search.