Owning a business is hard. There are a ton of balls in the air and it pretty much always feels like if you drop even one ball, it will be the end of your business. Most businesses simply can’t do it all and we rely on employees to get the job done.
Last night I interviewed a potential new employee. He seems like a nice person. And I hope that he will be a good fit on our farm. But I don’t know that he will be a good fit. We will train him and keep an eye on him and do everything we can to set him up for success. But in the end we have to have faith in another human to do the right thing, when we go to our son’s school event, a family birthday dinner or just work late in the field. We have to trust who we hire even when we are not there watching.
You see, when we hire someone, we aren’t just trusting them with a cash register or inventory. We are trusting that whoever we hire will do the right thing by our cows. Living breathing animals that have been entrusted to our care. We are trusting whoever we hire will not only live up to our expectations as their employer, but also to your expectations of our farm because you are our customer.
Cows aren’t always compliant. You can’t reason with them. You can’t explain the plan to them and have them understand you. They can be incredibly frustrating to work with at times. Cows can cause people to lose their patience and sometimes the person losing their patience is the person you hired. The person you have to trust will make the right choice when things don’t go their way.
Yesterday an undercover video came out from an animal rights activist group. It was filmed in part at a Fair Oaks Farms. The video shows inexcusable treatment of animals by employees of the farm. In response to the video Mike McCloskey, founder of Fair Oaks Farms, released a statement that you can read on their Facebook page. In the statement he takes ultimate responsibility for what happened and explains that the employees in the video had been fired long before the video was released because other employees spoke up after witnessing abuse. The culture on the farm is such that employees spoke up when they saw bad actions and that says a lot.
The McCloskey family has to put their trust in a lot more employees than we do on our farm because their work load is bigger than ours. But at the end of the day, both of our families have to put our trust in others. When something happens to break that trust, video camera or not, that is the ultimate betrayal.
Last night I hired a new employee. I will train him, I will have him sign an agreement to care for our ladies with respect, I will supervise him. At some point I will leave him on his own to do some work and I will put my trust in him because I have to, to get the job done. I will put my trust in him because I believe that although evil exists, most humans are good. That is the best I can do.