Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production
culture blog

Improving productivity and employee retention through culture.

Posted March 09, 2023 by Dr. Monty Miller, owner of the organizational consulting practice International Performance Solutions

Labor challenges are nothing new in the animal and food production industries. But the key to attracting and retaining high-quality employees is within reach for any operation. It all starts with workplace culture. Culture, put simply, is the way we get work done as an organization. Culture is impacted by several factors including industry, supply chain, demographics, language, environment, economics, people, leadership and more.

Organizations create and maintain their cultures through the content and skills used in the teaching and coaching of new people on how to perform tasks and solve problems. Organizations enhance their culture through the enhancement of teaching methods and training content, coupled with the quality and care of their communications and coaching. It is the balance of tasks to be performed and the constructiveness of the relationships that creates high performance cultures.

Why does culture matter?

Every organization has its own culture whether you acknowledge it or not. Culture is important because it gives us an understanding of what people want in the workplace, how to meet those expectations and it can be used as a powerful recruiting tool. While every organization’s culture is unique, there are some attributes that are desired by most people in the work environment. They want to feel as though they’re growing in position, they want to be respected for their knowledge and capabilities and they want to be proud of their work.

How do we measure culture?

Culture might seem abstract but there are ways to measure it effectively. At ARM & HAMMER™ we used an instrument called Organizational Culture Inventory® (OCI)® to measure culture both internally and at many of our U.S. dairy clients. Measuring culture with the OCI not only allows you to see the current culture, but it helps you see and discuss what team members wish the culture to be and create actionable goals resulting in more “constructive” cultures.

Culture in action.

Every operation and farm has its own unique culture. Through ARM & HAMMER’s Ag Culture program, dairy customers were able to measure their culture and turn those measurements into actionable steps of enhancement. Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy, one of the largest family-owned dairy farms in Wisconsin, is one customer who participated in the Ag Culture program and was able to dramatically enhance their culture and business sustainability.

Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy applied numerous tools to enhance their culture based on OCI® results including the Practical Neuroscience of Leadership© (PNSL) – a program that helps participants understand how we learn, process information and our need for engagement and/or reflection (referred to as Temperament) and subsequently how others do the same to enhance everyone’s abilities to better connect, communicate and collaborate with each other, resulting in greater appreciation, respect and performance that lends itself to enhancing trust.

Before implementing the PNSL, some of the teams lacked in appreciation for how members and leaders communicated and what was needed for effective communications, a common challenge that occurs in almost all organizations. At any organization, leaders can frequently butt heads because their styles of learning, processing information and temperament will differ. Appreciating and respecting these unique traits of fellow peers, managers and others enables people to find better ways of approaching their work. After the PNSL, Pagel’s employee were able to better understand, appreciate and respect how the others preferred to connect, and work, and could adjust their communications efforts accordingly.

With enhanced communications occurring at Pagel’s, the organization moved toward greater levels of organizing and short- and long-term planning. In all organizations the committed and loyal employees generally wish to contribute to the future plans and strategies when and wherever possible. This brings the employees’ heart and soul into the business and daily operations when they realize their observations, inspirations and solutions are valued. When people’s ideas and intellect are actively sought and considered by leaders, there are heighted levels of commitment, passion and loyalty. These are critical methods to create cultures that create Organizational Magnets that attract and retain the best employees, as people feel valued and respected.

Ready for a change?

Baselining a culture with tools like the OCI and by leveraging programs like PNSL© to enhance organizational learning on communication, planning and enhancing relationships helps build organizational accountability. This transforms the cultures of an operation which trickles all the way down to animals, land and asset productivity, because people exhibit greater care.

High performance cultures create organizational sustainability and transforming culture is not out of reach for any organization. No matter how small or large, your operation can enhance its culture to improve employee attraction, retention and productivity.

To learn more about transforming your culture and Pagel’s Ponderosa’s culture journey, check out ARM & HAMMER’s two-part culture series on Food Chain Chats.




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About Dr. Monty Miller

Dr. Monty Miller is the owner of International Performance Solutions, Ltd, a consulting practice that engages in training, development and organizational change. He is also co-founder of Bear Mountain Endeavours LLC which is developing novel leadership systems. He conducts his practice in the Americas, Asia and Europe. Monty has a doctorate in Organizational Change from Pepperdine University, an MBA and Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University.



Organizational Culture Inventory® Research and development by Robert A. Cooke, Ph.D. and J. Clayton Lafferty, Ph.D. Copyright © 1987-2023 by Human Synergistics International. All rights reserved.

Practical Neuroscience of Leadership © is a copyright of International Performance Solutions, Ltd. All rights reserved.


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