March 28, 2016

(Dan) Folks, welcome to the show today. Thanks for joining us on DocTalk. It’s going to be a great show. We’re going to talk about human resources and animal health. My guest, Dr. Nels Lindberg from Great Bend, Kansas. He’s the owner and operator of Animal Medical Center. It’s gonna be a great show. Thanks for joining us. Stay tuned after these messages.

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(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. Here’s my good friend and colleague Nels Lindberg. He’s from Animal Medical Center down in Great Bend, Kansas. Let’s just talk a little bit about what you do and some of the business. Cause you’ve got a lot of different businesses, a lot of different interactions within the industry. What are some of the things that you have going on? (Nels) As you know we have Animal Medical Center in Great Bend. That’s a primary business. Within that business we have a lab testing business for cattle that we test cattle for BVD. Along the way have become a partner in Production Animal Consultation that a group of us formed, Dr. Wade Taylor, Tom Noffsinger, Corbin Stevens, Kip Lukasiewicz, Doug Ford. Part of that, that’s just strictly our consulting business. (Dan) For feedlots and dairies and even some swine operations right? (Nels) Yes, actually if I remember right it’s like eight of the 30 largest swine operations in the world that Dr. Jim Lowe, our partner takes care of. And then Doug Ford on the dairy side, mostly in Colorado on the dairy side, all protein. (Dan) And nearly 25 percent of the fed cows. (Nels) A pretty big number, not quite that much, but we oversee shy of 20 percent of the cattle on feed in the U.S. (Dan) And I think it’s important for people to understand the depth and breadth of which you and your group are participating, because you see a lot…we’re gonna talk about human resources and their impact on animal health and you see it every day. (Nels) Sure. (Dan) And you see it on big farms and small farms whether it’s in your practice around Great Bend or whether it’s covering feedyards with 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 or more head of cattle. (Nels) Correct. As a veterinarian we are scientists but when you start consulting feedyards or have your own practice or businesses, animal health is a big part of what we do but really it’s only about 50 percent of what we do. People are the other 50 percent. And however you’re going to become involved in guiding those operations and dealing with those people, can wind up being a significant part of your day or maybe not. But as with our consulting group that’s part of the path I’ve gone down is some management development, leadership development, but really that became out of necessity to me in all my failures in my practice and kind of lead and grow a practice and knowing where I wanted to go, but not being able to get there. (Dan) Probably starts out with picking the right person doesn’t it? (Nels) Well that’s right, the right person but more importantly the right person on the right seat on the bus. You can have the right person, but if you don’t have them on the right seat on the bus, you can set ’em up to fail. (Dan) Right, having a good person, putting them in the wrong job, something they aren’t equipped to do or not good at, then they’re not going to get things done. (Nels) That’s right. You set ’em up to fail and you gotta be able to realize when they’re on the right seat, and when they’re on the wrong seat. And that can be a challenge, but that’s part of what we do everyday. (Dan) Cool. Well, let’s take a break. When we come back we’re going to get into some of the intricacies with Dr. Nels Lindberg from Great Bend, Kansas, about things that we’re going to look for in human resources and how that can have an impact on animal health on your beef operation, or dairy or swine. You’re watching DocTalk. More from out here in the country after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with my friend and colleague Dr. Nels Lindberg. He is a veterinarian and he is the owner and operator of Animal Medical Center in Great Bend, Kansas. He’s also a partner in Production Animal Consultation. Does a lot of things with feedyards and veterinary practices, probably one of the most progressive veterinarians I know. And we’re talking about animal resources and impact on animal health and I think everybody out there, whether it’s a farm or ranch, anybody running a business, is how do we hire people? And what are some of the things we go through on hiring people, keeping them there and that? But just kind of walk though. Cause you’ve gone through a lot with human resources and hiring people into your operation. What are some of the steps you go through in that process? (Nels) As I routinely say, a lot of how I’ve got to where I’ve got is through failure and learning from my mistakes and failures. And the hiring process is similar for veterinary operation as it is for a farming operation or feedyard or cow/calf ranch, whatever it might be. Oftentimes we, in a smaller business, we find ourselves, we may put out an ad or we may not put out an ad, and often times hire the first person that comes in the door. And we’re just here fill out an app, let’s visit a little bit, interview and don’t really ask the right questions. And we end up just going ahead and hiring them. And those things don’t end up right and we don’t hire the right person. So, first of all, in terms of when you go to hire somebody is don’t hire the first person that comes in the door. We really want to try to get a broader sweep and have multiple applicants and that may or may not be possible. If it’s possible that’s the route you want to go. And of course, application process whatever, but the next part is the interview process. And you really want to spend more than one interview and multiple interviews is best. (Dan) Of the same person? (Nels) Of the same person. At least three interviews and preferably if we’re hiring a veterinarian I tell them all, I want you to come spend time with us. I don’t want to just talk to you in an interview, ask you questions and try to fish a few things out, you really can’t if I will, undress a person until you spend some time with them. And they can’t undress you until they spend some time with you. So, the interview process really, you need to spend some quality time with them to where some things happen and you can see how they react, they can see how you react and go from there. Because if you don’t you really aren’t going to get them very well. So, multiple interviews, spend some time with them. (Dan) One of the things that we’ve talked about this quite a bit, one of the things that you’ll even bring in their spouse for the interview. (Nels) Absolutely, that’s a technique I learned from one of my mentors, I read and follow Dave Ramsey, is interviewing spouses. It’s a very vital important piece of that pie, because if you’re hiring a very important person to your operation, their spouse is going to be part of it whether you want them or not. They are married to that person. They’re gonna be married to your operation and that spouse can drive a lot of things in the wrong or right direction, as many of our listeners already know. (Dan) So, multiple interviews, work together if possible, interview the spouse, an inclusive interview system, something Dr. Lindberg recommends. We’re going to talk more with Dr. Lindberg here after these messages Stay tuned. Thanks for watching DocTalk.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Nels Lindberg. I’m at Kansas State University. Dr. Lindberg is the owner and operator, he’s a veterinarian, owner and operator of Animal Medical Center. Member of Production Animal Consultation. Good friend of mine, mentor of mine, someone I bounce a lot of things off of, so it’s exciting to me to be able to share him with you. We do a lot of things with our families. Do a lot of things that we’re very fortunate to share. (Nels) We hope they’re all good. (Dan) Depends on the day. Now, talking about employees, human resources, animal health. We get the person hired. You don’t call ’em job descriptions, you call ’em…? (Nels) KRAs. KRAs and that stands for Key Results Areas. And so we’ve all kind of grown up or known things such as job descriptions and you’ve got line by line by line of the job description and that’s OK. But I prefer to go to this sort of key results area. And it’s very simple. All you do is you try to answer the question. They try…the employee or the team member tries to answer the question with you, or separately and together. What does winning look like in your job, or in your position? Because ultimately that’s what we want them to do. We want them to be able to win at their job. To love their job. To enjoy what they do. After all they’re there hours and hours upon end. And if they’re not succeeding at their job, they’re not going to be happy. They’re not going to be there long term. So, we want to ask them simply, what do they think winning looks like at this operation? What do they want to do? What does winning look like? There’s things that they have to do, but we want to make sure they feel like they’re winning at their job. (Dan) And then you’re giving them ownership. Mr. Engler when I worked at Cactus, he said I want everybody that works here to think like an owner. (Nels) Sure. (Dan) Well if you allow them the ownership of their job, sorry, their KRA, then they’re describing what they want to do and how they feel they best can contribute to owning up to their responsibilities. (Nels) Absolutely. They get to have a partial say, or a say in what those job descriptions are, what winning looks like in those job descriptions. And as their leader, their team leader, whatever, you get to help massage those job descriptions or those KRAs in what winning looks like. Obviously there’s some things that they may not always enjoy to do, but it’s part of the job. But we have to help them understand that. And also again, look for their input and as long as they have some input, they are going to feel that ownership. If they have no input, they won’t have the ownership. (Dan) And it can get into everything from treating sick cattle, to withdrawal times on cattle, to making sure there’s no residues, make sure the water tanks are clean. I mean there’s a whole plethora of things that can be redundant jobs, but if you make people feel like they’re responsible. (Nels) Sure. I’ve gone through these exercises with head cowboys and cowboy crews. And typically what you find out, it’s with any person, every person wants to do a great job. But if you’ll just take the time to ask them what winning looks like to them in that job, you’ll get some very valuable input. Now, are there some people out there that may not give you some valuable input? Of course. And that’s up to you as a leader to help guide them to give you some valuable input. But you’ll get great input back and most likely you’ll wind up winning at your job even more, if you allow them to help dictate what winning looks like to them. (Dan) Great. Well, let’s take a break. When we come back we’re going to discuss more with Dr. Lindberg on animal resources, human resources and animal health. Might have to do with some human health too and some animal resources but anyway, more after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Nels Lindberg. I’m from Kansas State University and he’s a practitioner and owner/operator of Animal Medical Center out in Great Bend, Kansas. Talking about animal health and human resources. (Nels) Right. (Dan) A lot of people quit jobs. (Nels) The top two reasons people quit their job are, A, we don’t give them the right tools to do their job successfully, so that’s a must. You’re not giving people the right supplies, the right tools to do their job, don’t expect them to do it and how you want it to do. And I see this routinely in a lot of operations. You gotta give ’em the tools. Number two is we haven’t given them crystal clear expectations of what we expect out of them everyday. Everyday, the daily grind, daily logistics, you’ve gotta let ’em know what your expectations are and how to carry those things out. (Dan) Absolutely. And so tools and expectations, when we do that there are still people that don’t get it. OK? And we have to remedy that within our operation and that’s either they’re going to have to get it, or they’re going to have to get going. (Nels) Sure. The best way to not have to do that though is to make sure you don’t hire ’em. The best way to not fire is to not hire. (Dan) OK. (Nels) And that goes back to that initial hiring process that is so very crucial. And firing is not fun for anybody. So again, I go back to make sure you spend time with these people. Talk to ’em. Talk to their spouse. Talk to whoever. Don’t just hire on a whim because you may end up firing them. And so that’s key, very key to not have to fire. But to follow that up, if you have to fire ’em, you want to make sure you have done everything within your power as their leader, to make sure they have had the opportunity to succeed at their job. If you have not done that, then you have failed them as their leader in helping them achieve winning at their job. So, make sure you look in the mirror before you do anything to fire somebody. Because often times it’s your fault. And then number three, if you have to, make sure you do it with dignity. Do it with pride. Don’t hurt ’em. Don’t do it in front of their people. Give them their dignity, give ’em their pride and let them go freely, happily. (Dan) I was told by a friend of mine, he’s yet to meet anybody that got fired that didn’t know it was coming. (Nels) Sure. (Dan) Both parties know when it’s not working. And so to do it with dignity, cause it’s a small world. (Nels) If you’ve been a good leader, they know it’s coming. (Dan) Yep. And it’s constant communication. I know you’re a firm believer in over communicating. You know, 20 seconds, what would be your take home message on human resources? (Nels) Well again, spend plenty of time hiring, spend plenty of time interviewing, so you don’t have to fire ’em. So you get to know them before you failed in the hire. Cause that is your fault. If you failed at the hire, you’re probably going to wind up having to eat your crow and you may have to let ’em go. Again, that’s the number one key. (Dan) Over communicate, expectations, tools, and if you gotta let ’em go… (Nels) Do it with dignity. (Dan) Do it with dignity. Folks, thanks for watching DocTalk today. It’s always a pleasure to have Dr. Lindberg on here with us. Remember always work with your local veterinarian. And if you want to know more about what we do at DocTalk you can find us on the web at I’m Dr. Dan Thomson, thanks for watching us today. And I’ll see you down the road.

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