Things are foul at this chicken farm-a case study

The heat was already over 100 when I arrived at 0730 to MBD (David’s Poultry Farm), on the Israel/Syrian Border. There was calm on both sides of the border, and one could see the outposts of the Syrian Army.  In MBD however, things were less than calm.

MBD is the largest Poultry farm in the North of Israel; the proprietor is David, a 55 year old native of Tiberius. David is trying to enjoy the fruits of his 35 years hard work by stepping back, and he has transferred almost all of the managerial responsibility to Alexandra (a native of the Former Soviet Union), who immigrated to Israel in 1973.

Alexandra is a PhD is agricultural science and served in the Soviet army in Logistics of Food Transport. Since Alexandra has joined and stepped into her role as “Operations Manager”, all hell has broken loose. Sick leave is up, the new time clock was sabotaged 23 times, and there have been all sorts of maintenance issues cropping up which are unjustified.

BUT-Production is up 75% and market share has grown drastically due to accurate shipments.

David, who remembered me from McGill where we studied in the same years, asked me to visit and make recommendations.

Alexandra said that David was soft on the workers and this is a transition period which will be painful. “It vill take a year”. David treated the Russian workers softly, so they came late, left early, and malinger when there is no work or it is too hot, claims Alexandra. The “native Israelis” workers are constantly arguing and asking “why” and David never demanded obedience. “They must stop asking “lama” (why) or dey vill be fired”

The workers from Arab villages,  come very early (515 am) after morning prayers, and David paid them for sitting around and waiting till work begins simply because David loved to banter with them-since David’s native language is Arabic. “Ve now have shifts dat start at 0700, and if they come early it’s der problem”, said a proud Alexandra.

Alexandra told me that David must FULLY step back and ” I vill whip dem into a team in a year.”

A former supervisor named  Igor (m, from Ukraine) told me that Alexandra is an OK technologist and has no idea how to manage. Igor told me that Alexandra stripped him of his title as supervisor and his peers laugh at him for taking commands from a Babushka (Russian Granny). Igor and David run together on the weekends.

Igor is married to David’s cousin.

Inam (f, Arab) told me that Alexandra installed a time clock, and checks daily if people have stamped in. This is highly insulting because David worked on the trust system “and when there were problems, we dealt with this quietly, via our oldest worker, who acted as an intermediary between David and the workers”. Alexandra does not understand that the girls need to travel ALL TOGETHER in in one truck organized by her village in the morning, or else, “there may be trouble” and added “We do not set the timetable of the village truck with the male escort.”

David had hired a consultant before me and he had done a “group discussion” and “outdoor training” which failed to produce changes.

Since each population requires a different style of management, David now needs to make some tough choices.