Building a Dairy Farm Team

Country Aire Dairy Greenleaf, Wis. ( Mike Roemer )

Would anyone doubt that a successful dairy farm requires a team effort? Silly question? Not at all. Most dairy farms have groups of people or collections of individuals rather than teams. Success does not demand a team approach. A farm manager who prefers a team approach faces a tough test of patience, people skills, and communication.

Team Basics

A dairy farm can have a team of people, a group, or just a collection of individuals. The differences among the three are important:

Team→ Several people who work together as a cohesive unit to achieve specific, shared goals.

Group→ Several people who have common goals but work independently without depending on each other for their success.

Individuals→ Several individuals who work independently to accomplish their individual goals without depending on each other for their success.

There are good reasons for dairy farm managers to form teams. Successful teams are likely to help managers accomplish the following:

  1. Efficiency in use of farm resources
  2. Complementarity of skills brought to the team by its members
  3. Reinforcement of goals, standards, procedures, and rules
  4. Mentoring of newer and less skilled team members by other team members
  5. Esprit de corps from team members personally enjoying each others’ company and the team’s accomplishments
  6. Peer pressure to help meet team goals and to correct performance deficiencies
  7. Monitoring of performance at both the individual and team level.

However, people sometimes have understandable reasons for resisting teamwork:

  1. Previous negative experiences with attempts at teamwork
  2. Fear of the risk that goes with commitment to a team effort
  3. Management's failure to develop an atmosphere of trust in a team's ability to be good for both the farm and individuals
  4. Some people not fitting well into a team environment, e.g., perfectionists, scorekeepers, grudge carriers, loners, and procrastinators.

Stages of Team Development

A dairy farm group goes through several stages before becoming a highly efficient and effective team. The stages are:

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