A strong company leader is critical for a company to get through a crisis. Today with the coronavirus pandemic we are in a deep crisis like we have never seen before. No one is sure exactly how long this crisis will last. During the coronavirus pandemic small and medium sized meat company leaders have three major responsibilities: 1. Protect their employees by providing a work environment that is safe. 2. Protect the company so it can stay in business. 3. Protect their customers. Meat plants provide goods and services for livestock producers, retail customers, wholesale customers and food service customers. Without the goods and services provided to these groups by meat plants many will have a difficult time surviving this crisis.

The following are traits of a strong leader.


Effective Communication

Effective communication, both oral and written, is absolutely critical. Fear is often caused by uncertainty. Meet with employees weekly to give them updates on the state of the company, new policies/procedures, and safety updates relative to the coronavirus pandemic


Focus on Employee Safety

The most valuable asset a meat company has is its employees. Furnish your employees with the appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for the coronavirus pandemic. This includes face masks and gloves. Make sure they are trained on how to use each piece of PPE. Make sure plant entrances/exits, workstations, break areas and restrooms are set up in such a manner that allows employees to practice social distancing. Some companies monitor employee’s temperatures each day when they come to work.


Consider Innovative Marketing

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic some meat plants’ customer base (such as food service) has greatly decreased. Sometimes those meat plants have found new opportunities in wholesale or retail. Perhaps you might consider online sales.


Don’t Promise More Than You Can Do

Today many small and medium sized meat plants are very busy. I know several plants whose slaughter schedules are already full for the rest of 2020. Do not sacrifice product quality and safety in order to achieve greater production.


Show Empathy

During the coronavirus pandemic people often have many issues to deal with besides work. Be understanding of your employees’ feelings and needs. Often a few minutes visiting with an employee concerning their issues can be very helpful.


Don’t Try to Do It Alone

Many of the issues associated with doing business during the coronavirus pandemic are complicated and difficult to figure out on your own. It is an important time to be a member of a meat industry association in your state or region. I also feel it is very important on the national level to be a member of the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) www.aamp.com. On the AAMP website there is a section of AAMP COVID-19 Resources that has information on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Another very good national group is the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network www.nichemeatprocessing.org.


Set a Good Example

Do not expect more from your employees than you expect from yourself. If you fail to properly wash your hands, practice social distancing or wear a face mask, don’t expect your employees to do it.

There is a distinct possibility that companies which effectively navigate this crisis will emerge stronger than before. Hang in there. This too shall pass. IP