Dairy producers and nfl head coaches have a lot in common. They both must focus their teams in order to accomplish goals.

When it comes to judging Sunday’s game performance, the football coach looks at more than just the final score. The coach has organized his team into departments. Each department has a coach — offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and special teams, to name a few. And, the performance of each department, and of each player within that department, is analyzed to see if improvements can be made, explains Tom Fuhrmann, consulting veterinarian in Tempe, Ariz.

Although your goals are different than those of a football coach, the very same strategies — analyzing performance and setting goals — should take place on a daily basis. 

“Dairy producers can make more money by managing people than anything else on their dairy,” says Fuhrmann. By organizing your dairy into departments, you can take advantage of key performance indicators to assess people performance and how it impacts cow productivity and the bottom-line.

Use these steps to develop an organizational chart for your dairy.

What it is
An organizational chart is the blueprint of your business. It takes a complex business and reduces it into smaller areas or departments, based on specialization. This allows the manager to not only look at the big picture, but to also examine performance for each profit center of the dairy and the people who work there.

An organizational chart should:

  • Be put in writing.This allows everyone on the team to see who is responsible for what, and who provides leadership for each department of the dairy.
  • Create teams. Employees should be organized into teams, based on job function. For example, all employees who milk could be one team or department, and all employees who care for calves from birth to weaning could be another team. When defining teams, be sure to list responsibilities for each team. For example, is feeding colostrum the responsibility of the calving team or of the calf management team? Each team should have a coach as well as players. On larger dairies a head milker or lead feeder can take on the role of coach, and then he or she becomes responsible for their team achieving the desired results. In addition, each team will need rules to play by and goals to achieve. So, for the milking team, the rules would be a specific milking routine, and possible goals could be throughput of >120 cows/hour or SCC of
  • Use descriptive names.Use department names that describe what is done in each area. Common department titles used on dairies include: milking unit, health, reproduction, feeding, calves/heifers, maintenance and relief. Large dairies may also have a maternity/calving team, hospital team, and night team, to name a few. Depending on the size of your dairy, you may have more or less departments.

Getting started
Using the criteria listed above, grab a sheet of paper and write a draft organizational chart of just the departments. (It should look something like the top two rows of the chart shown at left.) Next, list each employee under the appropriate department.   On large dairies, you may need to subdivide this even further. For example, if you have three different milking crews, or two different parlors, you may want to further subdivide your organizational chart so that you can track performance for each milking crew.

Once completed, start double-checking the placement of each employee. Look at each person’s job responsibilities. Do all members of a department share common duties or goals? For example, do they all care for calves from birth to weaning? Do they all have the goal of weaning calves by 40 days of age with a weaning weight of 150 pounds?

If you find people within the department with different duties and goals, it may signal that you need to further divide that department. For example, among the calf raisers, you may need to subdivide the departments into “maternity/newborn calf care” and “calf care up to weaning.”

Remember, it’s OK to have just one or even two people within a department. On smaller dairies this will often be the case. The key is to organize your employees according to job function — not personality.

Now that you have created an organizational structure for your dairy, turn the page to learn how to select key performance indicators for each department.



Use your job descriptions

If you already have written job descriptions, you can use them to help organize your dairy into departments. A well-written job description should contain both qualitative and quantitative objectives for each position on the dairy, explains veterinarian Tom Fuhrmann, of DairyWorks in Tempe, Ariz. Qualitative objectives list the responsibilities for each job. Quantitative objectives list the level of performance expected — what goals they need to accomplish to do the job well.

If you haven’t already written job descriptions, invest in them. Employees tend to perform better when they know what is expected of them and how their performance will be measured.

The five responsibilities of every coach

To be successful, every coach must adhere to these five basic guidelines:

1.   Know and understand each system of work. (For example, the steps required to deliver colostrum to a newborn or the parlor routine.)

2.   Train all team members.

3.   Monitor team performance — both work routines and results achieved.

4.   Acknowledge good work, and retrain players who do not follow the established protocols.

5.  Communicate upward (to their coach) and downward (to their players) frequently.