Due to the ongoing challenges regarding the hiring, training, man-aging and retention of employees in livestock operations, Don Tyler, agricultural employment coach and consultant, will conduct a wide variety of training meetings in early 2001. If you manage employees, then plan to attend. You will receive an extensive reference manual and several hours of hands-on, interactive training.

Specific topics will include, but not be limited to: significantly increasing the number of applicants; interview questions that expose motivation and attitude; developing job descriptions and employee policies; improving performance evaluations; dealing confidently with any employee conflict; improving communications; orientation and training; loyalty and accountability; becoming the employer of choice in your area; and many other topics chosen by the participants.

Customized training at your operation also is available. For locations, dates and additional information, contact Tyler directly at (765) 523-3259; fax: (765) 523-3253 or e-mail: dhtyler@wcic.cioe.com.

Employee performance evaluations are a new area of concern for pork producers. Even if evaluations are already part of your routine, there may be new techniques to improve the process.

Some of the most common mistakes when evaluating employee performance include having a single manager making a sole judgment about an individual's performance. You should also avoid any evaluation that focuses more on ratings than on learning and development. It can make the employee feel like he or she is being ambushed by all of the things that went wrong in the past year.

One new approach to employee appraisals is the 360-degree evaluations, says Sarah Fogleman, Extension agricultural economist at Kansas State University. This method lets employees be evaluated by every possible perspective.

For example, employees are not only evaluated by their manager, but also colleagues, subordinates, customers, suppliers and themselves. The self-evaluation is usually insightful, because employees are often harder on themselves than others are on them, says Fogleman.

The 360-degree evaluations are dependent upon anonymity, and only work if the employee has the opportunity to evaluate the manager as well.

Fogleman also suggests a continual process of informal evaluations throughout the year, not just at annual review time.