Smooth operation vs controlled chaos, part one in a series

Create Role and Responsibility Charting (RACI) to improve work environment, efficiency.

My children play a computer game where they build an empire by directing workers to do specific tasks. The player directs a worker to do a job, and when the job is complete, the worker stands around until a new task is given. The game is easy at first, with only one or two workers, but as the empire grows and more workers are required, managing the workers becomes more and more frantic and less and less efficient. The game becomes difficult to keep everything moving in the right direction. As a business owner/manager, is this how you operate? Do you feel like you move at a more frantic pace each year?

Managing your employees’ time and your time was easy when there were only a few employees But as farm operations grow and add employees (and family members), the simple job of keeping everyone pulling in the right direction without stepping on each other’s toes becomes a real challenge.  

Have you seen any of these symptoms in your business?

-Concern over who should be making the decision at hand
-Blaming others for not getting work done
-Workloads that are out of balance to the role and with each other
-Lack of action because of ineffective communication
-Confusion over who does what
-An “Us vs Them” attitude between management and employees
-Idle time waiting for instruction
-A reactive work environment
-Poor morale
-People stepping on other’s toes and getting into other’s work area
-Owners/Managers time is chipped away with constant interruptions of trivial decisions

The Logical Remedy

There is often resistance to add formal business processes, because it is seen as time-consuming, while day-to-day business is fluid, with job duties changing daily. But what if you were able to simply remedy the above-listed symptoms with just a little bit of focus time prior to the busy season? Adding business process to your business doesn’t have to be daunting. I believe it is best to start with the simplest method when introducing a new management practice. You can always get more complicated and tweak it at a later date, but you will see a simple process has a better chance of being accepted by your team. A logical first step to creating a method for judging performance is a simple and practical first step to a more streamlined and efficient operation; one the whole team can gather around. I call this method Role and Responsibility Charting (RACI).

RACI – Responsible, Accountable, Confer & Inform

This tool (RACI) defines the decisions each person can make on their own and which decisions need outside input. In order to run efficiently, decisions must be made at the lowest possible level in your organization. Allowing and defining your employee's decision making will free up your time as a manager and let you focus on larger strategic issues.       

So what is RACI? RACI is an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Confer & Inform. It takes every job task and answers the question: “Who does what, with whom, when, and how to communicate the results?” This process deals with not only the actual tasks but also the part that is often overlooked, communication. 

In the second part of this two part series we will delve deeper into RACI, how to implement it, how to use it, and how this management tool can be used to free up valuable time, allowing you to focus on your bigger picture and bottom line.


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 [email protected] or www.encore-consultants.net.

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