A Top Ten List: Mark and Loren's Advice on Leadership

posted on Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mark and Loren--who have a combined 86 years of experience--clearly possess a wealth of pork-production knowledge and wisdom. And in terms of our SelectPride program, these two finishing supervisors have a proven track record, consistently finishing in the top ten year after year. After much convincing, we got them to share their secrets to success. May we present... "A Top Ten List: Mark and Loren's Advice on Leadership."

#10—Work alongside your managers. Get out to your sites and head to the barns; use every opportunity to teach and train. You can also help them catch up on tasks that might be overwhelming a struggling manager. There’s no job that is off limits. If it’s part of the daily chores, it’s an opportunity to strengthen your relationship, relieve some pressure off and show them every detail is important.

#9—Say thanks. We’ve been in this business a long time, managed countless sites, territories and people. We don’t need reassurance. But when someone thanks us for our work or recognizes good results, it makes our day. Think about how that makes you feel and pass it on as often and to as many people as you can.

#8—Use your tools. “I wanted to throw this smartphone in the pit,” but now I realize it’s a lifeline to information and data that helps my farms get better, faster. The reports we get now have improved dramatically and is today's data, not week-, month- or quarter-old. Understand what it's saying, keep the information moving and use it to make the best decisions.

#7—Recognize there are patterns. Admittedly there is some skill to marketing, but the majority of marketing success comes from deciphering patterns in the daily weights and cut dates. Information flows constantly now and is there for the taking. Analyze that information to help make decisions and be ready to make adjustments.

#6—Have the confidence to call for help. Animal health can be deceiving and sometimes production results don’t make sense. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have the answers, and definitely don’t get discouraged. Call your peers and compare notes, call your senior supervisor, call your vet, get them out to look at your pigs and be another set of eyes; we do it all the time.

#5—Take time to help others. You can’t survive on your own, not in this business. A production system has constant needs to be met. Learn to be fluid, fill in gaps and help get the work done. Whether it’s a team on the front lines triaging a barn fire or a fellow finishing supervisor on a family vacation, remember there’s always a team in the background marking pigs and covering gaps. Appreciate one another and help each other out.

#4—Remember, there is only one way to eat an elephant, and it’s one bite at a time. There are issues in this business that can overwhelm you. Reports of high mortality at five of your sites, paired with eight inches of fresh snow; weaned trucks running three hours late and a phone call that your brand-new site manager is about to experience an unannounced audit. Prioritize and tackle the highest first, then move through them one at a time.

#3—Let no farm be an island. Show your managers they are connected and have a support system. A few turns of poor health can bring down even the most-seasoned manager pretty fast. Get your vet to the site, bring in more sets of eyes and form a medication plan. Build their team and show them they’re not alone.

#2—Emulate our leaders and pass it on. Our leadership team cares. They are sincere, hard-working and want to help us get better. We’ve been with companies where when a major catastrophe happens, it’s ours and only ours to deal with. Here, if a rollover happens, a barn fire or a tornado, you’re immediately surrounded by your team and nobody leaves until everything is okay. Remember that catastrophes can also happen on a smaller scale and can be overwhelming for a manager. Pass along those leadership traits and rally support if something goes wrong at a site.

#1—Sometimes it’s luck. There are such things as good pigs and bad pigs, and sometimes you can’t predict what you are going to get and how it will turn out. But at the end of the week, it’s about having the confidence that you did your absolute best. If you can ask yourself this and you can honestly answer “yes,” then you are going to be just fine. ‪#‎billionpounds