Cooperation Tools for Farm and Marketing Associations

5. Who does what?

  • Work steps

    You can download the content of this section as a Word file → here.

    Tasks and responsibilities

    Why is it useful to clarify tasks and responsibilities?

    Being responsible means being able to respond to tasks appropriately, which necessitates that individuals have interest in, be engaged with, and connect to the tasks they are responsible for. To do this, it is important to collaboratively divide the labor based on skillsets and interest, both for day-to-day business and for internal development tasks. Un-assigned or misaligned tasks and responsibilities can easily lead to conflicts. If, for example, responsibilities are not clearly stated, some individuals may be very active in many areas, while others feel their areas of responsibility are being overtaken. Unclear roles and responsibilities can lead to people feeling frustrated, unaccepted, hurt, and to the work not getting done in an efficient and effective way. Even if everyone only wants the best, there is a high risk of conflict, which undermines the effectiveness of the whole operation, if responsibilities are not clarified.

    At this point, based on the common goals of the previous steps, a responsibility structure should be established.

    In which situations is it advisable to clarify tasks and responsibilities?

    The clarification of tasks and responsibilities is very important. It serves to prevent tensions and conflicts and to promote commitment. It should be done at the beginning of community building and when personnel changes occur. But it is also a process that needs to be updated annually, because new tasks are always arising and other tasks are dropped. I can also be helpful to review and renew roles and responsibilities when tension arises.

    Work steps

    1. Identify all activities and tasks in the company
      • Create a list of all tasks within your enterprise. This step brings awareness into what is going on with every aspect and every person in the company. The list can never be too detailed. If there are several people working in one work area, it is necessary to specify tasks in great detail. See example "Tasks on the farm, example 2".
      • Include ALL tasks on the list, whether it is currently getting accomplished or not. Also include who is doing it and whether it is a big task or a small one, a task is done or not and who is doing it.
      • Everything can and should be listed.
      • Look at this list together and check to what extent there is a common understanding on the individual points. If necessary, make corrections and clarifications.
    2. Identify who is ultimately responsibility and who executes on each activity
      • Use three columns on a sheet of paper (or use our worksheet). List the tasks in one column, who is doing the task in the second, and who is responsible for it in the third column. The second and third columns can, but does not have to be the same.
      • Everyone involved in this process fills out the sheet themselves. They start by listing the taks and writing who should carry them out.
        • Think about what makes sense for the future
        • Focus on the practical acts of what is happening, the execution of tasks
        • Everyone adds their name, the names of other people, and/or the names of employees, to the respective tasks as appropriate
        • After this step you will have several lists with possibly different information about who should do what
      • Place these lists next to each other and look to see where there are differences. Rectifying the differences may require sensitivity. Because:
        • These lists contain both the wishes of individuals and their assignment to tasks by others.
        • There will also be tasks that no one is assigned to or tasks that no one is willing to take responsibility for. However, these tasks also need to be distributed.
        • The goal is that you create a list for the completion of all tasks on the operation.
      • Now, look at who is responsible for these tasks and rectify the lists.
        • Execution of the task and responsibility for the task do not have to coincide. The person responsible ensures that the task is completed and can delegate this, if necessary and appropriate.
        • For every task there is only one person responsible! There should be no double entries in this column.
    3. Description of the intersections
      • When machines, goods or services pass from one area of responsibility to another or are shared by two or more areas of responsibility, a description of the relationship, exchange, and shared use is necessary (see example "farm tasks, example 1").
        • If there is clarity in dealing with the exchanges, then naming it is sufficient. In case of ambiguity a detailed description is necessary. For example, the definition of times when machines are shared, criteria for the evaluation of e.g. milk at the hand-off between barn and cheese dairy.
        • In this detailed description, it is also important to identify who executes on the exchange and who is responsible for it.
    4. In more complex structures the drawing of an organization chart is very helpful, possibly with the creation of a middle management level.

    The principles of this section are:

    1. Consistency of work areas:
      Tasks and responsibilities must be consistent with the previous fields of work, especially "What guides us" and "How do we get to where we want to go." Important changes at the task level should also lead to changes at these levels, and vice versa. For example: if a farm community decides to offer vacation apartments, it must be clear to everyone that people want to visit the cheese dairy and that guests should be welcome. Therefore a sentence in the mission statement that the farm wants to be open for guests could express this. Likewise, the consequences of new ideas and ideals must also be considered on the task level and planning level.
    2. Assignment includes a decision order
      With the jointly agreed assignment of tasks or areas of responsibility, the person is given the decision authority over this area. The decision-making framework is jointly decided in the working area "How do we plan and operate?”

    Possible variations:

    See “Other materials” and the template for Activities-Competency-Responsbility as a kind of "job description.".

  • Examples

    Here you can find an example from marketing associations:

  • Work documents

    You can download our work documents here:

You can find further documents and materials in German language here.