People in Ag electronic newsletter

Want to talk about labor management?


This is just a reminder that I am available to converse about questions or concerns you may have related to the management of farm workers and your agricultural workforce. You can either email me or call me (209) 525-6800, or contact me via Skype (you will find me as GregorioBillikopf, with no space between the names). If you are located in San Joaquín, Stanislaus, or Merced counties, I will be glad to come out to your farm operation in person to work with you or your management team.

By the way, to those who do not farm in my three-county area in California, I receive emails or Skype calls from all over the world and take each one of them very seriously. My combined English and Spanish websites receive an average of two to three thousand five hundred hits a day, except for weekends and holidays. The Websites, for me, are like saying, "Look, I may not be in my office right this second, but I left the door open for you, so help yourself to the educational materials that you need."

I am just as thrilled about my job today as when I was hired as a farm advisor back in 1981. Actually, I am even more excited. I have lots of research-based tools and ideas to share with you. I am always open to learning new ideas, also. I have picked up many ideas from contact with people like yourself. As you explore the rest of this website, you will also find numerous articles, research papers, and books that you can download into your computer to get additional ideas. From time to time I offer seminars on these topics, also.

In some areas I may have to refer your call to those who have specialized in the topic. Such topics may include but are not limited to farm labor law and regulations, farm safety, public policy issues, and production technology to name a few. So, here are the topics that I hope I can be of help.

1.- Farm employee selection. The next time you want to hire someone, let's work together on designing a selection approach that includes practical tests (also called job samples) where you get the opportunity to observe and evaluate applicants before you hire them. Farm employers who have tried this approach find the results so positive that they seldom want to hire another person without giving them a practical test.

2.- Conflict resolution at the farm. Do you have employees who may not be getting along with each other and are dragging your operation down? Two milkers? A tractor driver and a mechanic? Two farm managers? Call me to help out as a mediator. I can apply effective research-based techniques to the challenge. Employees will often be grateful to you when they are given the tools to deal with the associated stress of regular negative confrontation. I have developed a new conflict resolution model called Party-Directed Mediation.

3.- Performance appraisal. There are effective ways that you can help employees improve their performance and have them take more responsibility for it. I use the negotiated approach to performance appraisal, a model I developed during a trip to Africa, and since refined in California and Chile. Not only is this approach effective, in that it helps improve communication and talk about things that people may not want to talk about, but it is also very satisfying to the participants. I can help out as a facilitator in these performance appraisals.

4.- Pay for performance. You may wish to design a pay for performance or incentive pay program for those at your farm operation. One farm employer I have worked with spends about 5 to 7 thousand dollars a year in additional incentive pay and in return gets about 55 to 57 thousand dollars in increased production. We can talk about different types of incentives and the challenges that have to be overcome, including piece rate pay, quality bonuses, and so on.

5.- Discipline and termination. Do you ever feel you spend more time nagging than managing? Do you have employees who seem headed for termination? We may be able to talk about an effective way to help the employee improve before it is too late. Or, we can talk about how to let someone go and reduce the chances that they may sue you for wrongful termination. We can do most of the work together, but at the end you will also need the help of a qualified labor attorney, if you do decide to go ahead with the termination.

6.- Conducting effective meetings at the farm. Do you ever feel that you keep covering the same material in meetings but that things seldom get done? Or, do you feel that your employees don't contribute ideas in the meetings? Or, do not respect each others ideas? Feel free to invite me out and help you plan and even attend your next meeting and work together to make things happen. Or, do you have a board meeting or other meeting where you need a facilitator? Give me a call.

7.- Employee or management coaching. Do you have an employee who would benefit from some coaching? I am sometimes called to help middle managers and supervisors to become more effective at what they do. We can talk about effective ways to delegate, empower employees, and discipline employees. We can also talk about effective and respectful interpersonal relations and negotiation skills.

8.- Do you live far away? Even if you are not close-by I may be able to provide some help. For instance, I have been developing audio seminars that you or your employees may want to listen to in their vehicles, on such topics as conflict management and interpersonal negotiation skills, empathic listening skills, and other.

5 May 2009

Agricultural Labor Management


Gregorio Billikopf Encina
University of California
(209) 525-6800