Ernie Oelker
The Ohio State University, Extension Agent
Trumbull County

Who ever heard of training a dairy farm employee? Don't you just hire people who already have the skills
and experience that you need? Perhaps not. It appears that candidates for dairy farm jobs are increasingly
less likely to have valuable experience. Besides, every dairy farm is different, so it is important that all new
employees have adequate training and orientation in order to get off to a good start. Good training can
eliminate many mistakes. Well-trained employees have better morale and improved performance compared
to those who are forced to learn from their mistakes. Many of the mistakes dairy farm employees make are
due to inadequate training and unclear expectations of job performance. Good managers provide training for
every employee, new as well as experienced ones.


Loosely defined, training is any attempt to improve current or future performance by increasing employee
ability. Training consists of planned programs designed to improve performance at the individual, group,
and/or organizational levels. Improved performance, in turn, implies measurable changes in knowledge,
skills, attitudes, and/or social behavior.

The purpose of training is to:

  • Promote high performance. Well trained workers get more work done with less effort.
  • Increase productivity. Fewer mistakes mean fewer accidents, lower costs and less down time.
  • Enhance workforce flexibility. Well trained workers are more confident in their abilities and skills. They are less afraid to tackle new responsibilities or to fill in for co-workers.
  • Improve worker commitment. Workers who see the commitment you make to their success show more commitment to their role in the success of your business.
  • Lower absenteeism and worker turnover. Well trained workers get more satisfaction from their work. Job satisfaction is more important than pay rate in keeping workers happy and productive.

There are three main types of training. Each plays an important role in getting workers prepared to do a
job and keeping them motivated and effective.


Generally, dairy farm managers take time to show new recruits around the operation, introduce them to
other employees and management team members. Sometimes it works better to have a trusted employee do
the orientation of new hires. Orientation is extremely important to the overall training program. Orientation
is the introduction of the new employee to the organization, the industry, the requirements of the job, the
social situation in which he or she will be working, and the organizations culture. Therefore, orientation
must be much more than just Ashowing the new employee around. Orientation is the time to help the new
employee adapt to your operation and become assimilated into the social structure of the workplace. The
overall goal is to help new employees learn about their new work environment.

1. Create a Favorable First Impression
 A. Provide sufficient information about when and where to report for work.

 B. Get all relevant paperwork handled efficiently.
 C. Have personable and efficient people to assist with orientation.

2. Enhance interpersonal acceptance
 A. Ease the employee=s entry into the work group.
 B. Assure proper orientation to the management team and procedures.
 C. Consider a buddy" or mentoring system to insure interaction of newcomers and Ainsiders.

3. Increase individual and organizational performance.
 A. Reduce adjustment problems by creating sense of security, confidence and belonging.
 B. Employees perform better because they learn faster.
 C. Employees exhibit stronger loyalty through greater commitment to values and goals.
 D. Lower absenteeism.
 E. Higher job satisfaction.

The following orientation check list may help you to do a more thorough job of covering the important
things new employees need to know:

A. Organization and policies
B. Insurance benefits
C. Other benefits
D. First day schedule and duties
E. Location of important facilities
F. Working hours
G. Pay policy
H. Employees' second day activities and schedule
I. Employees' first two weeks activities and schedule
J. Other items
K. Opportunity for reorientation

Specific Job Training

The second type of training is specific job training. This is where you or your manager train the new
employee to do his or her specific job. You need to decide on some important issues before you structure the
training program for new employees:

A. What are the training needs for this person for this job? (What level of skill does the applicant have
now, and what level is required to do the job?) Consult job descriptions for each position.
B. How and where is the teaching to be done?
C. What methods or type of training will be used for each task?
D. What are the acceptable levels of performance for this person in the position?

Now that you have decided what, how, and where training needs to be done, it is time to prepare your
training plan. Dr. Bernie Erven, Ohio State University Extension Specialist in Human Resource
Development, uses a simple approach to help trainers get their message across effectively. He calls it
"Prepare, Tell, Show, Do, Review."

The following are the steps that Dr. Erven suggests:

1. Prepare or motivate the trainee to improve his or her performance.
2. Tell or clearly illustrate the desired skills you want the trainee to learn.
3. Show the trainee what you want done by doing it for them.
4. Have the trainee DO the task and practice it until he or she is comfortable with it. Encourage the trainee
to ask questions.
5. Review and provide timely feedback on the trainee=s performance during the training and during the first
weeks of work.
6. Provide reinforcement while the trainee learns.
7. Structure the training from simple to complex tasks.
8. Be adaptable to solve learner problems.
9. Make sure the trainee makes a positive transfer from the training to the job.


The third important type of training is retraining. Retraining is training to overcome initial training
deficiencies or to prepare workers for job changes, new routines, or new equipment. Every training program
should include provisions for retraining. In order to assess the need for retraining, you must evaluate the
performance of your employees. Besides helping you to determine the needs for retraining, evaluation of
employee performance is important in determining wage increases and motivating them to continued high
performance. A good training program is important in developing and retaining productive, happy
employees on your farm.