I will never forget my first experience with a Progressive Beef audit. While our feed yard had participated in the Beef Quality Assurance Feed Yard Assessment for several years, my veterinarian filled the role of auditor under that voluntary educational program. The Progressive Beef Quality Management System took auditing to an entirely new level for my crew and I. While it ultimately provided a tremendous tool for improvement, opening my farm to an “outside auditor” made me uncomfortable.
My feed yard was my pride and joy, and my crew like family. I am a perfectionist and hold myself to a very high level of accountability. A comprehensive audit often finds imperfection as it is designed to measure performance to a high level of detail. It is my nature to take things personally and I viewed every infraction (no matter how small) as a slight on my own leadership.
The rational part of my brain recognized that growth and continuous improvement involved measuring performance at a detailed level. The metrics of the audit forced me to face imperfection. The intellectual Anne knew that the road to excellence was never comfortable, and that perfect practice made perfect performance. The emotional Anne dreaded audit day.
Over the years that Will Feed participated in the Progressive Beef QMS, I learned that the positives of the audit outweighed the negatives. The effectiveness of the tool as a means for continuous improvement significantly outweighed my personal stress. I’d like to report that I learned to relax, but I preach to my kids that integrity trumps all so I am simply going to say that I learned to accept the reality of audit day 😉
Somewhere along the way, I recognized that audit meant:
- Human nature insists that we perform better when we are held accountable for our actions.
- True understanding comes when you realize that the little things count. Dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s really does raise the level of care that you offer to your animals. Animals matter so details had better matter.
- Daily dedication to a goal of excellence builds a positive culture. When you are dedicated to caring, awesome things happen.
- Integrity is the voice that sits on your shoulder when you make decisions. You are more likely to listen to it when you live amidst a culture of excellence. Caregivers with integrity bring honor to the farm and lead to responsibly raised food.
- Trust in our food supply plays a critical role in the stability of our country. Verification of care inspires trust. If it matters to you, it had better matter to me. We’re in this together.
One of the responsibilities for my new job is becoming a Progressive Beef auditor. I am in the process of changing my position relative to who holds the clipboard. I am hopeful that my past experience as feed yard boss lady will enable me to empower the feed yard crews that I audit to believe in the heart and spirit of an audit.
Getting better matters. It involves accountability, understanding, dedication, integrity and trust; and results in a level of animal care that brings pride to the vocation of raising food.