Coaching, Advising, & Motivating Change: A workshop for DeLaval advisors

In June of 2019, DeLaval, a major player and innovator in the dairy farm technology sector invited Dr. Steven Roche of ACER Consulting to work with their team of advisors. In a half-day session, Dr. Roche worked with their team of advisors to expand their communication toolbox to motivate change amongst their producer clientele. 

In Canada and the United States dairy operations, and the people who work on them, are not as consistent as you might think. We often see multiple generations, a wide variety in herd size, management style, and areas that producers excel at and struggle with. This can be a challenge for anyone who aims to help producers improve management practices on their farm. 

We are too focused on what we know – it’s not just about knowledge!

As experts, we want producers to follow our advice to make things better. If they just listened and did what you recommended, it would be so easy, right? 

  • If they used deep sand beds they’d have less mastitis
  • If they added more fans they’d have less heat stress
  • If they slowed the weaning protocol on the calf feeders they’d have less pneumonia in the heifer barn

We are eager to share what we know. This type of communication leads to advisors banging their head against the wall and no changes being set in motion. Why does it fail?

This type of one-way delivery of information assumes that once we “educate” the producer, he/she will accept it and apply it. Basically, we are assuming that they are lacking in knowledge and they are eager to learn from us. The problem is, a lot of the time, it’s not a lack of knowledge that’s the barrier – it’s a lack of motivation!

Producers often need motivation, not information

Experts and advisors need to learn to motivate producers by helping them to examine their narrative to motivate change. In other words, why do they do what they do? What is driving decision-making and practices on the farm today? We can use this understanding to being setting measurable and attainable goals to motivate uptake of management practices on the farm.

The emphasis on this type of communication with producers was intended to improve client communication to build trust and relationships. ACER coached DeLaval’s advisors on how to motivate change. The workshop consisted of scenarios on dealing with difficult or emotionally charged individuals, anxiety, and conflict resolution. Contact us for more information on similar workshops for your team. 

 

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