Every business should be looking to the future and planning. Whether this be for the physical performance of the business, e.g. cow numbers, the financial performance of the business, or family plans for the future, e.g. succession.
It is important to have both short term objectives and long term objectives for each of these areas as they work hand in hand. When setting objectives, they need to be SMART:
• Specific: well defined, clear and unambiguous. Ask who, what, where, when, why?
• Measurable: specific criteria that measure your progress towards the accomplishment of the goal. How much/many? How do we know the goal is reached? What are the indicators for progress?
• Achievable: not impossible to achieve. Do we have the resources to achieve this? Have others achieved the same goal?
• Realistic: within reach and relevant to your aims for the business.
• Timely: within a clearly defined timeline, including a start and end date.
As an example, the following gives you an idea how this can play out on farm:
• S: to increase milk yield per cow by 500 litres through feeding extra concentrates by 31st March 2020 to improve profitability of the farm business.
• M: use dairy costings to set the baseline yield and monitor progress to target.
• A: 500 litres per cow should be achievable over 12 months.
• R: is the breeding of the cows correct to allow this increase and is the feeding system in place to provide the milk increase?
• T: by 31st March 2020.
Using this system gives specific detail on what is the focus for the dairy herd over a set period of time, which when shared with the rest of the farm staff will help everyone pull in the same direction.
Setting goals will help the business have a clear direction and will help motivate people, (family members as well as staff), as they know the direction they are heading. It is however essential that goals are communicated well to all those involved so that everyone is working towards the same outcome.
Often having a third party involved in these meetings is helpful to act as a chairperson and ensure everyone gets an opportunity to speak and keep the meeting focused. Within the team of consultants at the Farm Consultancy Group, we have experience of running these types of meetings and would be happy to help facilitate one for you if you are interested. Please contact Phil at firstname.lastname@example.org or your local FCG office for more information.