Communication in the Poultry Industry


John Holloway: Complex Manager

John Holloway is the current Complex Manager at a Tyson complex located in Carthage, TX. He was raised on a broiler/breeder operation. This, along with years of participating in 4H, led him to Texas A&M University where he majored in Poultry Science. John was immediately drawn to the major because of his background, and soon realized the various opportunities the field had to offer. In May of 1997, he took his first job in the poultry industry managing a pullet vaccination crew. For the next two decades, John worked all over the industry as he moved up.

How well does college prepare new employees?

John says, “I had a strong technical knowledge entering the industry, but I had to learn to deal and communicate with people as well as learning specifics of the company’s human resources”.  Since being in the industry, he has noticed that some newly hired employees struggle do to the fact that they do not listen. New hires often feel like they don’t have to work as hard after graduating. There is a certain amount of entitlement that comes with a degree; because of this employees do not build working relationships.

What skills do you believe are most important in this industry?

John placed an emphasis on the ability to work with people and work in teams. In an industry where time is money, not being able to communicate effectively can literally be costly. There is no room for confusion when dealing with a high volume processing plant. Anytime you are working with a supply chain, communication is crucial. Each segment of the complex is a critical piece in a greater puzzle. John says that one way each department is held accountable for its communication is by the utilization of SAP. SAP is an enterprise resource planning software that allows instantaneous commutation from any department within an industry. Employees are provided with on the job training, as well as side courses to further develop employees.

What role does oral and written communication play in your position?

Oral communication is key in John’s position, and he feels that it is his strong suit. As a complex manager, you have to communicate with various aspects of the workforce. This involves everything from working sales orders to communicating with hourly employees about job function. As a previous Tyson employee, I can attest to seeing management walking through locker rooms speaking with employees. This helps understand the daily obstacles presented on the job, as well as lifting morale. Written communication is also important, but is used less often. John stated the written is primarily only used in email, and when USDA formal letters are written.

Is cross culture communication ever an issue?

Cross culture communication can be very difficult. Tyson presents a very diverse workforce. John says that he has worked in locations where there are up to twenty different languages in use. This is a huge obstacle for a company to overcome, but it can be done with effective translating as well as hands on teaching and demonstrations. He also spoke about the slang used in the industry. This can often result in confusion because slang differs within the company, but also from location to location. In order to avoid confusion, an employee needs to have a complete understanding of what is expected, and what is going on.


Lane Pearce, Guest Blogger


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