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Smooth operations vs control chaos, part two in a series

How to implement RACI on your farm.

Last week I introduced you to RACI, a delegation and communication tool that streamlines work processes and communication. RACI empowers employees while placing guardrails around their activities. Although this system requires a little time upfront to implement, the benefits are long lasting, and can lead to a more productive and satisfactory work environment.

How does it work?

Each letter of the acronym RACI stands for a role that is assigned to people in your business whether they are family, employees or managers. It also answers the question of what is the desired communication if the employee has questions and what level of decision making is permitted.

-Responsible refers to the “doer” and the person who implements the job or task. Responsibility can be shared among several employees/owners/family. For example if the task is daily equipment servicing and the equipment operator is supposed to complete the service work; then he is Responsible. 

-Accountable - This person is ultimately answerable for the activity or decision. The buck stops here. There can only be one Accountable role for each task. Every task must have someone accountable for it. Using the daily equipment servicing as an example, the equipment lead or head mechanic may be the person Accountable for ensuring the service work is completed.

The last two letters in the acronym RACI stand for Consult and Inform. Consult or Inform defines the method of communication and allowable decisions making back to the team or management. Not every task requires communication except when there are questions.  

-Consult - People in the Consult role usually are subject experts, managers or others with experience. This role is consulted prior to any final decision or action. This is used for either major decisions, or to protect inexperienced employees from getting in over their heads. Note: The consult role is great for those acting as a coach, trainer or mentor to others.

-Inform - The Inform role is one that requires informing the team (or manager or owner) after the decision or action has taken place. This one-way communication (including phone, voicemail, email and text) allows the rest of the team to see the big picture and know that tasks are being completed.

The easiest way to chart this out is with a matrix,  like this sample matrix is below.

Role

Task

Tillage Equipment Operator

Combine Operator

Mechanic

Truck Driver

Equipment Lead

Harvest Manager

Pre-Harvest Equipment Check

   

R, C

 

R, C

A,C

Daily & Hourly Service

R

R

 

R

A

 

Minor Repairs (define minor)

R, I

R, I

I

R, I

A, I

I

Major Repairs

   

RAC

 

C

C

Program Cab Monitors

R, I

R, I

   

RA

 

Adjust Equipment Settings

R, C

R, C

 

R, C

AC

I

Daily Clean Cab

R

R

 

R

A

 

Wash & Cleanup Equipment after harvest

R, I

R, I

 

R, I

A, I

 

Post-Harvest Equipment Check

   

RAC

 

RC

I

Questions, Tasks and Decisions not listed above

RC

RC

RC

RC

RAC

 

If you lay this out on your farm you will most likely see a bottleneck in duties or communication. For example, if you see one role that has too many "Accountable" roles this person could be overloaded and in danger of burnout.

If you, as CEO, are accountable for too many tasks how can you focus on the strategic "big picture" part of your business? Use the chart to push the tasks and communication to the lowest possible level. This is a great example of empowering your employees, but still setting guidelines and expectations.

Work on this today

I often hear from family farms that they believe they are on the same page and pulling in the same direction, but communication and role confusion are still a problem. Don’t assume that RACI charting is only for large farms with non-family employees. To the contrary, RACI charting is even more important in family operations, because family farms have a family component that gets sticky in a hurry. This process is also ideal for farms going through succession/transition planning as roles and communication begin to change.

RACI charting is a great first step and may be the only step you will need. It usually creates very little resistance when presented to employees, because it is intuitive and easy. Use the RACI chart, but also periodically review it for accuracy as tasks and roles change. Using the RACI chart for will ensure your team knows what is expected of them and what is expected in their communication.

RACI follows the Albert Einstein maxim of, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." Don't let another year go by with chaos reigning and stress increasing. Work on this today, and I believe you will see a positive impact in your business. Cut the chaos with RACI. It will free up your time and lower your stress, both of which are important if you want to take your farm to the next level.

If you have additional questions email me at tim.schaefer@encore-consultants.net and I will email you step-by-step instructions on how to implement RACI.


The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.


Tim Schaefer founded Encore Consultants to provide specialized advising and coaching to farm families and agribusiness at the crossroads of change.  With over 20 years of experience advising farmers, Tim was an early pioneer of peer advisory groups for agriculture as a way for successful farmers to gain knowledge, ideas and skills from each other in a non-competitive environment. Tim can be reached at tim.schaefer@encore-consultants.net or www.encore-consultants.net.

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