1. The Right Team Leader

  • A skillful leader helps the team maintain its focus on major issues.
  • He or she enhances communication in order to be sure that all the possible solutions are being heard.
  • A good leader is masterful with people and team-process skills.
  • He or she avoids giving advice, but rather, leads the team from problem identification to a plan of action.

2. The Right Team Goals

Team goals are derived from critical farm problems that influence whether the business will exist in ten or twenty years such as the following:

  • 30 percent increase in milk sales.
  • Change in management styles from stall barn to milking parlors.
  • Sale or transfer of the business.
  • Arranging a new partnership for the business.
  • Specialization in milk production only.
  • New ventures.
  • Managing non-family labor.
  • Addressing complex unresolved management problems.

Teams should avoid farm problems that don’t require the skills, experience, and judgment of off-farm advisers. This is a misuse of valuable resources and will eventually lead to dissatisfaction and dissolution of the advisory team.

3. The Right Team Members

Team members and team problems should be well matched. As the team sets new goals, the composition of the team should be re-evaluated. Having a crop consultant or veterinarian on an intergenerational farm transfer team is likely to underutilize the crop consultant or veterinarian’s abilities. An estate planner or attorney might be a better choice.

Outstanding team members should have unique skills, experiences, and judgment not resident on the farm staff. They should also be team players and believe in the team process. Team members that have cross-purposes or hidden agendas can destroy a team’s effectiveness and will have to be removed from the team.

4. The Right Meeting Location

A team meeting is not a committee meeting but a highly creative process that benefits from locations that foster thinking and orderly discussion. Teams should meet in an environment similar to a boardroom, comfortable and away from interruptions and distractions.

5. The Right Solution to Critical Problems and Measuring Outcomes of Actions

Complex problems rarely have simple solutions. Using processes for making decisions can clarify solutions, but solutions often need refinement over time. By frequently tracking progress toward goals and using measuring techniques, the team can monitor the degree of success and evaluate when to intercede. Also, the monitoring process helps advisers see progress and assess their time commitment. Without a measured benefit advisers cannot continue to justify their commitment as team members.

6. An effective monitoring system for Tracking progress

A well-designed monitoring method will help your team determine when its action plan needs to be improved.

For more information about monitoring and evaluation, see Team Tools.

7. The Right Plan of Action

Without a clear action plan the wishes of the team may never be completely implemented. Action plans can be simple but should be in writing so the staff implementing the plan can know what is expected, what is being measured, when results are expected, and refer back to it over time. The action plan becomes the beacon for the team.

8. Communication

Ongoing communication is important between meetings as well as during team meetings.

For more information about effective communication, see the coordinator section of Team Roles.

9. Regular Evalutation of the team’s Performance

Stepping back and asking, “Could we do our team work better?” is a good start toward evaluating your team’s performance.

For more information about this, see Reorganizing Your Team.

10. Celebration of Successes

It is important that you all step back from time to time and acknowledge your progress and celebrate your successes, both small and large.