Q: “Our boss says that with feed prices going up and hog prices probably on the way down, we have to ‘watch the bottom line.’  For the last couple of weeks she’s been micro-managing us like we don’t know anything at all.  I don’t get it.  Why is it my problem when the company isn’t making boat loads of money?”

A: The best managers anticipate tough financial times and prepare accordingly. They review their procedures, make sure that waste is eliminated wherever possible, and work with every employee to maximize efficiency. It may be a hassle for you, but it is a sound business strategy that ensures the company’s profitability — and peoples’ jobs.

Recognize, too, that when you produce commodities you have to be certain that your product is well above average to gain all possible premiums and maintain an excellent reputation with packers.  Average producers producing average commodities are stuck with average prices that the market offers. That trickles down. As a result, those producers can only afford average equipment, average facilities and average salaries. Besides maximizing quality, the other significant way to maximize returns is to keep costs as low as possible.

When budgets get tight and profit margins are narrow, the best employees step up and ask how they can help. Motivate yourself to be a part of the process that improves efficiency. Few things are more rewarding than getting through a difficult time knowing that you did the right thing, that you put in the effort and everyone benefited in the end.