Effective team meetings at the farm level – Meeting structure
- Attendees: Participants should be those who contribute to the farm in a positive way while offering thoughts and ideas in a constructive and courteous manner. Consider key players from both inside the operation and among your outside consultants.
- Attitudes: Don’t let participants carry personal agendas that could get in the way of the team’s purpose. The ultimate goal should be to proactively move the operation toward its long-term objectives and minimize challenges along the way.
- Meeting leaders: Designate a facilitator who will keep the agenda moving forward. It is the facilitator’s job to guide the discussion and make sure it stays within the stated time frame. Designate a note-taker to summarize the meeting and distribute it to the team members.
- Agendas: Agendas should include follow-up items from the previous meeting, ongoing herd topics (with data to support trends presented), new ideas that proactively meet the goals of the operation and general information about the farm that should be shared with the group.
- Location: The ideal environment setting tends to be one where distractions are minimized and everyone can be comfortable and speak freely.
- Length: The average human brain and body can stay engaged for no longer than about two hours without taking a break. Keep this in mind when planning for the duration and frequency of meetings.
- Decision-making: Determine who will ultimately make a decision and what the process will be to get to a decision point.
- Summary: The summary should be shared shortly after the meeting and include the main topics discussed, action items, time frames and individuals in charge of completing the actions.
An extended version of this article originally appeared in the January 1, 2012 edition of Progressive Dairyman magazine. Stay tuned for the second part in this series, which will focus on balancing different personalities within a team. About the author: Bob Hagenow is a sales manager with Vita Plus and has been an employee owner for about 25 years. He grew up in eastern Wisconsin on a registered Holstein dairy farm and actively participated in 4-H and FFA. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned his bachelor’s degree in dairy science in 1985. In addition to his nutrition and farm consultation responsibilities, Hagenow is involved in training and recruiting at Vita Plus. He is actively involved in numerous organizations and is well networked throughout the dairy industry.