Cooperation Tools for Farm and Marketing Associations

6. What do we still need to learn?

  • Work steps

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

    Skills and training

    Our underlying belief is:

    Every human being wants to take responsibility for their life and successfully complete "their" tasks. Crucial for this are on the one hand the skills that are necessary to perform a task well and on the other hand the good cooperation with and support of colleagues.

    Why is it useful to discuss skills and training?

    In the last section you have assigned a responsible person to the tasks. Now it is time to focus on the necessary skills and the learning needs that are necessary to successfully complete the tasks.

    Skills assessment is a delicate task. It is can be a very subjective topic.

    The succession of this section is essentially dependent on two factors:

    1. This question can only be worked on without outside support, if there are no clear tensions in the community. If tensions do exist, we strongly suggest that you seek outside guidance. Otherwise, every word is taken very seriously and interpreted subjectively, and additional anger and frustration can easily arise.
    2. 2. qually important for success is the inner orientation with which members of the comunity approach the questions about skills and learning.
      • Do I/they claim to have full control of my/their field of work or can I/they admit to myself/themselves and my/their colleagues that I/they need to learn?
      • Is further development important and desired?
      • Do I/they feel they are allowed to make mistakes, talk about them and learn from them (because only then can I/they ultimately try something new)? Or do I/they have an attitude that blames others for the mistakes? Do I/they feel like I/they have to work with an emphasis on safety and excessive caution, because I/they will be blamed for mistakes?

    Ideally, a community succeeds in creating an environment of continuous improvement, in which the group reflects again and again on what works well and what does not, and what further development and training is necessary, both together and individually.

    A mandatory prerequisite for discussing learning and skill needs in an existing community is to make the previous results of the work in the area of responsibility visible.

    In the fields of activity for which I am responsible, I:

    • make good plans and participate in the following area of work "how do we manage and operate?”
    • make my skills visible through good work results.

    An objective understanding of the abilities/skills and learning needs for each position becomes clear through an evaluation of the works results and comparing them with the planning for all areas of the organisation.

    For example: The baker of a farm bakery plans an annual turnover of 150 000 €. But they only achieve a turnover of 120 000- €. They can justify this well and plan to achieve a turnover of 150 000- € again in the following year. After the second failure to achieve this goal, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify this well (unless it is due to factors outside their area of control), and at the latest by the third time, the responsible person themselves or the community will draw conclusions and make adjustments.

    In which situations do we recommend working on this area?

    Working on the issue of skills is important for newly forming communities, as well as, existing communities. Because we experience personal and operational change often, it is important to work on the question of learning and skills on a regular basis. This can be done on an “as needed basis” or on the same timeline as the review and revision of the mission statement, strategy, responsibilities.

    In the baker example above, the question of skills required to complete the task should also be checked. This is especially important to work on when goals are not achieved to a significant degree and when there are different assessments of whether someone has the necessary skills for the task.

    Work steps

    This work is based on the task description, the associated responsibilities and, if readily available, the work results of recent years.

    1. Self-reflection
      1. Do I have the skills necessarily to assum responsibility for this activity(s)? What else do I need?
    2. Critical self-review of my skills and the goals I have set in the context of our annual planning with appropriate discussion in the community
      • What did I do well, what did I do less well?
      • Did I reach or surpass my goals? Did I underestimate myself?
      • Are my contributions sufficient to achieve the desired results of the overall operation?
    3. Agreement on concrete development steps and further training measures: Seminars, courses, coaching, support by others etc.

    Since we are focusing on the subjective and the objective aspects of evaluation and review, the following also applies:

    Warning:, We only recommend these methods in teams that work well together without tension and still improve their team culture. If greater tensions are present, we recommend that external support be sought. We define low-tension as follow:

    • verbal communication is not very difficult
    • compassion for others is still there
    • there is not strong subset of people forming a coalition within the broader team
    • people still willing and able to point out personal development areas to each other and accepting them

    In our experience, as soon as one of these points is affected, these methods can no longer be applied without external guidance.


    When tension exists, people may view themselves and each other extra critically, and over time question their and each other’s competencies (this is also why the above mentioned "objective review" is so important). However, during the successful handling of a conflict, people can experience how the view of themselves and others, and their abilities, can favorably change.

    This means that regardless of the reason for doubting the skills of ourselves or others, the question must be addressed with external support in order to avoid a downward spiral within the community.

    Variations and additions

    • Work on the error culture, see the little exercise under "Other materials"
    • Exercise sheet for "Learning skills", see "Other materials"
    • Take advantage of peer consulting
    • Take advantage of supervision
  • Additional materials

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