Dec 212008
October 16, 2008 | Issue 68

> About This Issue

> Your ASM Calendar of Upcoming Industry Events

> What Do You Do with ‘Coasters’?

> Coming Up in the Next Issue

About This Issue

Beef . . . it’s what’s for dinner. Of course, it’s also the theme this month in The Animal Science Monitor. Another theme running through this issue is what to do with “coasters,” those employees who appear to be in a rut and not actively engaged in their jobs. The answers might surprise you, especially if you thought one of them would be yelling and screaming at the employee. So we hope you enjoy this issue of The ASM, and we also hope that when you’re done it reading it, you don’t think to yourself, “Hey—where’s the beef?” .

—Dan and Don

Your ASM Calendar of Upcoming Industry Events

At The Animal Science Monitor, we’re advocates of continuous education and the promotion of industry events such as conferences and conventions.  The training and networking opportunities that exist at these events are extremely valuable and can pay dividends in a number of different ways.

That’s why we run a regular column devoted to upcoming events in the animal science and animal nutrition industries.  As always, we value your input.  If there’s an industry event that you believe we should promote through our newsletter, please email your information to

The ASM is pleased to highlight these upcoming industry events:


Cornell Nutrition Conference for Feed Manufacturers

Date: Tuesday, October 21 through Thursday, October 23

Location: Doubletree Hotel Syracuse in East Syracuse, New York

Description: Some of the sessions being presented at the conference include “Understanding the Relationship Between Immunity and Improved Dairy Cow Production,” “Early Predictors of Transition Cow Disorders,” and “Improving Alfalfa Silage Quality with Inoculants and Silage Management.”  There will also be a social hour and reception on Tuesday and a cash bar reception and dinner on Wednesday.  In addition, registered participants will receive a soft cover copy of the conference proceedings.

Registration: The cost of the conference is $150.  You can register either online or at the door.  For more information about the conference, including the agenda and a link to registration, click here.



Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA) Convention

Date: Sunday, November 2 through Tuesday, November 4

Location: The Gaylord Texan in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas

Description: Making money in the cattle business depends upon getting the jump on upcoming challenges in the marketplace.  The TCFA Convention is a great opportunity for cattlemen to learn more about these challenges.  Topics will include information about how to get the best deals on grain, how the livestock industry is fighting back against the agenda of animal rights activists, and the progress that U.S. beef is making as it wins back market share overseas.

Registration: The cost for TCFA members is $225.  For non-members, the price is $300.  For more information about the conference, including the agenda and a link to registration, click here.

Penn State Dairy Nutrition Conference

Date: Wednesday, November 12 and Thursday, November 13

Location: Holiday Inn in Grantville, Pennsylvania

Description: The primary goal of this conference is “to provide applied dairy nutrition information and training to feed industry professionals.  There is an excellent lineup of speakers and presenters at the conference, and as always, you can earn Continuing Education Credits for attending.

Registration: The cost is $85 if you register by Monday, October 20.  After that, the price is $110.  For more information, including the agenda and information about the “Feed Management Planner Symposium” on Tuesday, November 11, click here.

What Do You Do With ‘Coasters’?
(By Dan Simmons)

What do you do with coasters?  No, not the kind on which you put your drink.  I’m talking about long-time employees who have experienced success in the past, but for whatever reason, have lost their ambition and appear to be ‘coasting.’

With the unpredictable nature of the current economy, one would hope that nobody feels comfortable enough to coast through their job.  However, it happens and it does so under just about every condition possible.  So—what should you do in such a situation?  Although the course of action is specific to each company and employee, there are some general guidelines and action steps that can be followed.

The ‘art of engagement’

What steps you take and the order in which you take them have a great deal to do with the employee in question.  There are many factors that must be considered beforehand.  Possible factors include the following:

  • How long the employee has been with the company
  • The amount of success the employee has experienced in the past
  • How well you know the employee, on both a professional and personal level

However, no matter the situation or circumstances, the goal is always the same: to return the employee to the high level of productivity and success that they individually and the company overall enjoyed in the past.  The best way in which to do that, as we’ve discussed previously in The Animal Science Monitor, is to ensure that they’re “actively engaged.”  That means they should be passionate about their job and what they’re doing.  It’s impossible for somebody who is engaged to merely “coast” through their work.

With that in mind, below are some suggestions to help coasters become the employees they used to be (and more than likely, want to be) again.

  • Involve the employee in a mentoring relationship.  They could be the mentor or the person being mentored.  It doesn’t matter.  Each serves to more effectively engage this person.
  • Ask if they need anything to do their job better.  Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised by how well it works, starting with the answers you receive when you ask the question.
  • Suggest training.  The employee could be in a rut and simply needs additional training to infuse them with fresh ideas and enthusiasm.
  • Challenge the employee.  This can be done by giving them a special project or assignment or by adding to their regular duties.  It might prove to be the impetus they need.

Communication and expectations

What if none of the steps above work?  Then it’s time for a heart-to-heart conversation, if you know the employee well.  If you don’t, then an honest and straightforward meeting will achieve the same objective.  The key to the meeting’s effectiveness is thorough communication and clear expectations.  You want to probe for reasons behind the employee’s coasting ways, as well as make sure that they know exactly what is expected to them.

If this fails to work, maybe a transfer to another department is in order.  If that still doesn’t do the trick, then perhaps the employee should be “de-hired.”  (This is an excellent term coined by employment guru and syndicated columnist Dale Dauten, and yes, it’s markedly different from simply firing someone.)  In fact, now that the fourth quarter of 2008 is underway, you should be looking closely at the bottom third of your team.  Do they need to be challenged?  Motivated?  De-hired?

Do what you need to do during the fourth quarter to improve this segment of your team.  With the challenges that currently exist in this market, coasters are one luxury that no company can afford.

If you have any questions about this topic, or about how you can make 2009 a great year for you and your team, contact me at


Coming Up in the Next Issue . . .

Passion—it’s what for dinner.  No, just joking.  But passion plays a prominent role in the next issue of The Animal Science Monitor, specifically how it can positively affect the approach you take to your job.  After all, it’s far easier to be actively engaged in what you’re doing if you’re passionate about what you’re doing.  So be sure to tune in, and thanks for being a loyal reader of The Animal Science Monitor.

The next issue of The ASM is scheduled for publication on Tuesday, October 27.


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