Just because you have employees does not mean you have a team. Most dairy farms have groups of people or collections of individuals. It takes much more to build a team, says Bernie Erven, Ohio State University ag economics professor emeritus.

“A farm manager who prefers a team approach faces a tough test of patience, people skills and communication,” he says. There are good reasons to build teams, he adds, and there are many reasons employees have for resisting teamwork. Therein lies the rub.

You must understand that a group goes through a series of five stages on its way to becoming a team. Each team goes though the stages at different rates and in different ways — which is where manager patience and communication become critical. Most go through all five stages, provided they don’t stall at an early stage and cease to function, Erven explains.

However, you must keep in mind, “We are describing a process uncommon in group work,” he warns. “Teamwork is easy rhetoric. The practice of teamwork challenges even the most experienced dairy farm managers.”

Learn more about the stages and cultivating team performance.