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Extension > Agriculture > Dairy Extension > Labor/Employees > Teamwork

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Brenda Miller, Extension Educator
December 12, 2015


TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More. Youíve probably heard that phrase before, but have you ever stopped to think about how it relates to your farm? Every farm has a team and sometimes multiple teams. However, at the end of the day, all teammates must work together toward the farmís goals.

Team members

Every farm has two main sets of team members: owners/employees (those who work on the farm) and professional consultants (vet, banker, nutritionist, etc.). These can be broken down into specialty teams if it better fits your operation. Depending on your farm, your team may consist of just yourself or you and one other teammate or maybe it's yourself and a group of co-owners and/or employees. It is important to identify all team members and find out their specialty area. For example: Bob is in charge of feeding, Joe does the fieldwork and maintenance, Tracy takes care of the calves, and Mike & Becky are in charge of the cows. Or if it is a team of two who usually work together on almost everything except that Linda normally feeds the youngstock, Tim does the other outside chores, and then they milk cows together. So as you can see, every situation is different.

Team meetings

One very important aspect of a smooth running team is team meetings held at consistent intervals. For a team to be truly effective and efficient, every team member needs to know what is going on and what the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals are for the farm.

It is good to designate a team leader who will create an agenda and keep the meeting on task. The leader should not dominate the meeting but be able to listen and compile everyoneís thoughts to help guide decision making and keep the meeting going. It is also the team leaderís job to make sure every team member is engaged in the conversation and delegate tasks based upon each team memberís strengths. Every team member has a stake in the work and what the final outcome will be and, therefore, every voice needs to be heard. All team members should be welcome to add agenda items prior to the meeting time. If a team member canít make a meeting, the team leader should get any input from them prior to the meeting, then take notes and fill in that person later. Or if possible, have them participate in the meeting via a phone conference call. A time keeper is also necessary to keep the meeting within a set timeframe. By setting a meeting duration, you will be better able to focus and get business items completed. Also, by having a set time, team members can plan other events or work around it.

So first choose what day and time of the month or week to have your meeting and stick to it. Maybe the first Monday of the month from noon to 1:00 p.m. works well for your farm. Have lunch together and then start the meeting. Or maybe itís the second and fourth Thursday from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. After a few meetings you can evaluate to confirm whether the timeframe is working out well. Depending upon time of year, you may have to make adjustments to fit around planting, harvesting, etc. Just remember: consistency is key.

For your professional consultant team members, again depending upon your situation and whatís all going on at your farm, it might work out to meet one to four times per year for a large meeting. These members can help you make that decision as you evaluate your farm's needs.

Communication and engagement

The biggest factor of a successful team is having great communication. Outside of the set meeting times, face-to-face, phone, text, email, and written notes all work well. We all know that things can get messy and confusing if someone is left out of the loop. Sometimes the personalities of team members donít mesh, therefore meetings/communication might get interesting. It is important for everyone to be able to share ideas and give input, and it is ok to disagree as long as you are respectful and can back up your ideas with facts and figures. Everyone has a right to be heard so do not be afraid to speak up, just be courteous when doing so. It is also important to compromise and in the end, make the decision that is best for the team and the farm as a whole.

There is no "I" in TEAM. By working together and communicating regularly, it is true, everyone really does achieve more. Your farm will become more efficient and successful, and those who work there will become more confident in the day-to-day operations. Every team member is a stakeholder and decision maker, and each team member holds an important key to your farmís success. Go Team!

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