The farm we visited has built its own 'green' eco system where they develop their own crops, recycle and produce power through grass and recycle their water. This is not just environmentally sound but reduces input costs: the more waste products can be turned back into productive feed or used to fertilise pasture, the more efficient the operation.
Besides seeing these happy cows (especially when they were getting a massage), the enthusiasm of the employees couldn't be missed. They were really proud of taking good care of their cows and no doubt each of these cows had an important impact on them.
The employees are encouraged to come up with ideas to innovate, optimise and find ways to continuously make things better. That in turn produces even better milk for the farm's customers.
Coming away from the trip, I have no doubt this farm has all the ingredients to achieve its goals.
There are broader lessons here too. In today's world, more and more do we recognise the wellbeing of employees is crucial. We don't want our staff to feel overwhelmed or under undue stress or high pressure. To manage a really efficient organisation, as managers we must ensure the right environment is there to realise the potential.
And of course, what I don't mean is our staff are like cattle. Rather, our staff are the most important element in delivering a superior business outcome, whether that is more, better quality milk or superior customer service. It is the satisfied staff we must work on.
The leadership of organisations has a genuine opportunity to create the right environment to have the sort of open dialogue which empowers employees to try out new things – and it is that which results in driving the change which can deliver a better outcome for our customers.
Organisations that do that well will be able to differentiate themselves, have happy employees, be able to unlock discretionary effort and be successful in serving their customers. Taking care of our own before we can take care of our customers is an invaluable insight. Our dairy farm has shown us that …
Foreseeing the huge market demand, Fengxing Milk has sped up their expansion plan in recent years. It is estimated that in 2017, capacity of both dairy cattle feeding and dairy products processing will be double.
And Fengxing knows that if that ambitious goal is to be achieved, they can't forget about staff engagement. After all, happy staff means happy cows and better milk.
Anouk De Blieck is ANZ's Hong Kong-based General Manager Human Resources - International and Institutional Banking. You can read her take on corporate kissing here.