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0308 PD: Encouraging input fosters teamwork

Published on 04 February 2008

Fostering a teamwork ethic within a dairy operation enhances employee effectiveness. Forming a team is easy, but in reality, actual functioning as a team is a difficult task. Teams are made up of different types of individuals that must bring their collective strengths together for the benefit of the whole.

The first question that needs to be asked is whether employees are working managers or managed workers? Working managers are individuals that provide ideas and motivation to improve the business. Often employees won’t share ideas when they don’t feel they are an important part of the dairy’s team. This is one reason why employee input and team building must be emphasized.

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Tips for team building
The first step is to provide an opportunity for team members, especially new employees, to become better acquainted with each other and for management to communicate goals for the operation. This will facilitate the exchange of ideas on how to best accomplish goals. Use top veteran employees to mentor new employees and make them feel a part of the team.

Another major consideration is team members must be willing to express their own views while appreciating others. The team then must work toward a collaborative team approach to meeting goals.

The team must be involved in operation decision-making and serve as a catalyst to resolve problems or remove obstacles to improve efficiency, productivity and profitability. Consider having the team develop a top-ten list of activities they feel would benefit the operation, along with an action list.

Employers can show their appreciation to employees by providing recognition and “perks” to the team as a whole when goals and objectives are met. Again, the old adage that there is no “I” in “team” holds true. Recognition needs to be consistent with this philosophy.

Provide a suggestion box. This enables employees to give unsolicited suggestions for improving working conditions and give feedback.

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Consider providing an incentive for the best idea of the month. Ideas should result in cost savings or enhanced efficiencies. Acknowledge the best ideas and thank those who provided input.

Implement employee ideas. This will give employees “ownership” in the decision-making process. Widely publicize employee suggestions and their positive impact on the operation.

Consider publishing a monthly or quarterly farm newsletter to provide updates on the operation, recognize employees, and to define progress being made toward team goals and objectives. PD

—Reprinted with permission from ADM Alliance Nutrition’s website at www.admani.com.

ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc., 1000 N 30th St., PO Box C1, Quincy, IL 62305-3115

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