How many team members do I need?
Generally, three to five trusted advisers that see many successful farms plus at least two people representing the farm works well. Keeping teams small is efficient and cost effective. The power of a larger team can be accomplished by periodically bringing in selected advisers for short intervals to address very specific problem-solving needs. In general, small farms are successful with three to five team participants; larger farms may benefit from five to seven.
Who should be on my team?
Make a list of the most talented people you know that visit the farm regularly. From this list build a diverse team that can advise management while controlling costs. Then check if the hypothetical team matches your vision and the problems you would like to address. There is no right or wrong person for an advisory team. Diversity of knowledge and ability is key. Generally, most of the team is selected from the advisers that are already in place for the farm.
Personalities to Include
A good team member is concerned about the team outcome, committed to team goals, willing and able to listen, eager to work on teams, and able to offer challenging ideas.
Personalities to Avoid
People that are concerned only about their own area of expertise, dominate conversation, are know-it-alls, are committed to personal goals rather than forming team goals, and do not like or value working as a team. Not everyone has the skills or likes being part of a team. If one member is not committed and undermines the team, then it is better to replace that member.
Professionals that can be good members of your team
- Extension educator
- Artificial Insemination (AI) representative
- Milk plant representative
- Crop consultant
- Other dairy producer
- Trained facilitator
Managing Your Team
One question that dairy producers frequently ask about advisory teams is "Who is in control?"
The answer is the producer or owner is always in control, and the team always works for the producer.
The producer decides…
- …who is on the team.
- …who serves as team coordinator.
- …what is on the agenda.
- …what are the team priorities.
And, the producer controls the farm resources.
- …analyzes problems and opportunities.
- …shares its experiences from other farms.
- …makes recommendations that they feel will benefit the producer.