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Attendance, attitude, aptitude

My father has told me for years that the three most important attributes in an employee, ranked in order are: Attendance, attitude, and aptitude.

I have repeated this phrase countless times and had lots of time to think about it while coaching employees who want (or need) to be better. Let’s break these essentials down a little.

  1. Attendance sounds easy, but it’s more than just showing up. Show up early, ready to work all day. Bring some snacks and/or a lunch. Bring water. Bring the stuff you need to get through the day (medications, chew, tissues, etc). Have horse(s)/equipment appropriate for the work (be a little flexible, plans often change). Be a fit, strong, healthy individual who can function safely for a reasonable work day. Be rested. Stay off the phone, unless the boss is calling or it’s about work, AND it’s not taking away from the task at hand. You can always call the boss back after you count cows through the gate.

  2. A good attitude has a lot of components:

  3. Humility (The mission of the organization comes first, Look for ways to serve and help others, Continually learn to be better, Seek out and accept constructive feedback from sources you trust)

  4. A willing/can do spirit

  5. Integrity to do it right

  6. Grit to see tasks through to completion

  7. Be Proactive – look for what needs to be done, don’t wait to be asked

  8. Focus on positives and producing quality results that help the overall ranch mission.

  9. Be cheerful, nobody wants to work with a down-in the-mouth complainer who knows there’s a wreck around every corner. We’re not exactly curing cancer, so smile and mean it. Even if it doesn’t go exactly as planned.

  10. Own the results. If things go well, congratulations. There may still be room for improvement. Make sure you know what a great result is. If they didn’t go well, what can YOU do to improve the situation now or next time? We can also talk about this as a group, but stay focused on things in YOUR control.

3) Aptitude. In general, I like to think that if you show up to work and have a good attitude, we can teach you many of the things you need to do. If you don’t know much, we can fix that over time. Not 100% true, but it’s close. People vary in their strengths and weaknesses. On a ranch, skills with stock and pasture management are pretty vital. But some people are more mechanically inclined, some can get more done with animals, some are better at design, some are better at computations. Balancing the strengths of a team of employees is the responsibility of the manager and employees need to respect each other, differences included.


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