A new combine operator keeps leaving standing corn. He gets off a row for a second and then sure enough, a few standing stalks remain as he keeps going.
Despite his manager's constant request to stop leaving standing corn, the young hire isn't quite getting it. After all, he thinks to himself, it's just a few stalks – how much money could that be and why should I waste time going back to get them?
The manager, in frustration, wants to pull out the little remaining hair he has left.
If you find yourself in this position, try this approach: explain the "why" behind the request.
This time, the manager started off by telling his greenhorn why it is so important to get all the corn:
"It's not just about leaving money on the ground, although a few rough estimates could provide a revealing figure. It's also about ensuring we are pleasing our landlords," he told the young hire.
"The ground is rented and someone trusts us to do two things well; pay rent and take care of their land while using it. The reason we mow the ditch banks, drive slow in the field and ask if he wants to ride the combine is all in our effort to maintain a good relationship with the landlord. If we are known for being a good partner, it may lead to more ground from other landlords in the future.
"If you are sloppy about leaving standing corn, we might be leaving the image to others that we are sloppy in other parts of our operation," the manager told his operator.
From then on the young operator not only got all the standing corn, he started taking initiatives in other areas. A week later, he called up his manager to point out that one of the driveways could use some extra gravel.
We are often in a hurry, but taking a few minutes explaining the "why" can reap more benefits than you thought possible. Whether it is the "why" behind a task or the "why" behind the future vision of the farm, sharing that with employees allows them to be part of the solution.
It's amazing what they can bring to the table when you help them feel empowered.