You have to make tough decisions and put the farm first

posted on Saturday, January 23, 2016

Starting each day by asking the question, “What can I be doing better?” has paid off for Hebert, an employee of ten years who has worked hard to develop not only himself but others around him.

Hebert, now the farm manager for Sow 114, started as many employees do— as a technician. Over the course of his tenure he mastered the roles of sow farm technician and GDU (gilt development unit) technician, GDU farm manager, sow farm department head and an assistant manager. And three months ago, Hebert moved up again, taking on his biggest challenge to date. Today, Hebert is at the helm of a sow farm, managing a 12 person crew responsible for making a huge contribution to our billion pound journey. In fact, by providing great care to the sows and piglets, they will wean 104,458 pigs this year, a tremendous feat that requires a lot of leadership, drive and determination.

But Hebert says he’s up for it and gives a lot of that credit to the Production Leadership Program (PLP) –and also to the precursor of that program...which was simply a lot of people who saw his potential and took the time to help him succeed.

Iowa Select Farms has always had a culture of providing employees with opportunities to grow, however PLP was recently implemented to offer a more formal training and development program for employees. For instance, if a breeding department head expresses interest in developing into a farm manager, he or she would need to get experience in farrowing, which may mean moving to another farm to fill that position and train with a different manager. The PLP facilitates that training, tracks the progress and helps pair employees with new opportunities.

“If you would have asked me ten years ago where I would be now, I never would have thought I would be managing a farm,” said Hebert. “I’ve had so many people give their time to help me—every department head, manager and supervisor has invested so much time and energy on me, and now it’s time for me to give that back to the members of my own crew.”

“There have been some bumps in the road,” admits Hebert. This job isn’t easy but we’re getting better every day.” And Hebert’s right. The results of 2015 are in and his farm earned a 6th place overall SelectPride finish, a very respectable accomplishment.

“We meet as a team every day and talk about our targets and how we are going to get there,” said Hebert. “There are a lot of things that are complex and highly technical, and it’s important to stop and explain things. Like the other day I had to explain the word ‘wean’ to one of my employees, and I am thankful that he asked because it’s easy to overlook the basics.”

“If I could look back at my path I would say the biggest change is when you become a leader, you have to make tough decisions and put the farm first,” said Hebert. “And while that sounds easy I have also made a lot of friends, and I care about the people I work with a lot. But if they are not ready for a leadership position then I have to tell them, and help them get better.”

Hebert said he’s excited about the billion pound goal and what his farm can accomplish in 2016. “I want this farm to succeed and produce as many healthy pigs as possible, and the best way to do that is by helping my employees get better, because that is how I got here.” ‪#‎billionpounds‬