What each job entails and why it is important; Employers and employees should have regular updates on duties and goals.

[The following is closely related to what the Generational Farmers of Southwest Iowa will be working on in April 2012. Please plan to join us for this on-going conversation.]

Yellow Cone Flower, a native plant of the prairies

Yellow Cone Flower, a native plant of the prairies

Define Your Operation’s Organizational Structure

DECEMBER 9, 2011

By: Sara Schafer, AgWeb.com Business and Crops Online Editor


Do your employees know their exact roles?

Are they nailed down on paper?

How happy are your employees with their day-to-day work?

All of these questions and many more can be defined and improved by tackling organizational development, which is an effort by all involved in a business or operation to increase effectiveness and viability.

Barbara Dartt is a senior business consultant with Lookout Ridge Consulting, a family business and management consulting firm that specializes in production agriculture.

She says organizational development is an often untapped competitive advantage for agricultural businesses.

[Let's work on this topic together then.]

“Family businesses outperform all other types of businesses,” she says.

But the dynamics within a family can cause challenges, making organizational development even more important.

        • Dartt suggests implementing organization development concepts in small steps.
            • First you want to define what tasks or roles are needed for your operation,
            • and then recruit the talent to meet those needs.
                    • Make sure your employees have all of the needed resources to perform those responsibilities.


For new employees, you need to effectively orient them in their roles to improve performance, this training time is also known as onboarding.

During this time, clearly lay out what each job entails and why it’s important.

          • She says you want to ensure employees know how to complete their work and how it’s linked to the organization’s success.
          • Making employees feel needed and committed to their occupation is what will determine how long an employee stays with a job and his or her successful level.
                      • “Show people how they make a difference,” she says. This outlining of responsibility and worth should be done by the highest level of employer and should not be delegated.
                      • This human connection element, she says, is more important than access to resources, a chance for promotion or safety on the job.

Employers and employees should have regular updates on duties and goals.

“Two years and five years are key progression points in your career,” she says. “That’s when you will decide if this is a place for you or not.”

                    • During these check-in points, Dartt says it’s also important to clarify who has what decision making authority.
                    • To clearly display this, she suggests creating an organizational chart and sharing it with all who are stakeholders in the operation.


chicory, rusty old farm equipment

For More Information

Dartt spoke at Top Producer’s Executive Women in Agriculture conference. Read more news and coverage.

View a PDF copy of Dartt’s presentation.



• Keeping Farm Employees Pays

• 5 Tips for Managing Employees

• Spell It Out in an Employee Handbook


Generational Farmers of Southwest Iowa

Please let me know if there is a specific topic from the above article that interests you.


corn cob after harvest

Corn Cob left in the field after harvest


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