The focus of the previous chapter was on setting up new groups; in this chapter it is on developing existing groups. As the group develops, employees might have to be recruited (3.1), you may want to work on the motivation of the group members (3.2), you may have to resolve a conflict between several group members (3.3), or you may want to develop links with other organizations (3.4). If there are several milk producer groups in the area, the groups might want to think about setting up a milk producer group association (3.5). Other issues on developing groups have already been dealt with in chapter two, technical dairy issues will be dealt with in chapter four, other possible group activities in chapter five, and participatory tools in chapter six.
FAO group promoter's resource book
As the group grows, a management team can be formed, which includes the leaders of the group and paid professional management staff. Members should keep the ownership of the group, but they can leave the controlling work in the hands of the elected leaders. The leaders in turn can leave the day-to-day management in the hands of an appointed manager.
The role of the manager is very important and it is crucial to select the right candidate. Managers must have management, leadership and organizational skills. The function of the manager must be clearly defined. When the manager is selected he/she must be given the right on-the-job training to get to know the group members, the management committee and the activities of the group. A trial period of three to six months should be given in order to find out whether the right candidate is selected.
The group has to decide on procedures and techniques to select, appoint, evaluate and reward performance. Each position should have a job description and the candidate must have the necessary technical skills and personal qualities. Training on the job must also be provided where needed.
Motivation of the members (especially in the long-term) is important for the sustainability and success of the group, and you might want to organize specific activities to keep and increase the motivation of the members.
One of the first steps in trying to increase motivation of the members, will be to increase participation. Participation of all members in decision- making and group activities is very important (see chapter six participatory tools).
Increasing the activities of the group can help to motivate members (see chapter four and five). You might want to find out from the group members in which activities they would have the most interest.
Training and learning tours can also assist in motivating members; this will be dealt with in section 5.3: information and advice services.
Some examples of activities to increase group motivation and ownership, which are not dealt with in chapter four and five are:
Milk competitions (e.g. bonus for best quality milk)
Dairy animal shows
Group profit sharing
Social activities (outings, parties, dinners, barbecues)
Discussion groups on technical issues
Focus in this section will be on the management of internal group conflicts. In every group there are different people who have different interests. It is therefore not surprising that conflicts arise. If conflicts disturb the activities of a group, they can, in the long run, even threaten the existence of the group. In this case, timely action is needed to resolve these conflicts.
why do conflicts arise?
Before doing something about a conflict, it is very important to find its root cause. You will need to know the group members well in order to do this. There are several reasons why conflicts arise:
1. communication problems
Communication problems can arise for example due to different languages, dialects or jargon that some don't understand.
2. lack of information or transparency
Many conflicts arise because people are not informed e.g. if the leaders don't provide transparency on the financial records, mistrust from other group members might cause a conflict.
3. ignorance of members' needs and interests
For example if the leaders are only concerned about their own interests.
4. social power differences
Conflicts can also arise if there are differences in social status, for example a superior clan within the group makes all the decisions.
5. different laws are conflicting
Conflict arising for example from laws in the constitution which clash with local customs or other laws.
how to prevent conflicts?
Participation of all group members in the decision-making processes right from the start can largely prevent conflicts. All the interests of all group members should be acknowledged, and all-important decisions should be taken by voting. Participation and participatory tools are dealt with in chapter six. Proper record keeping (see section 2.3 keeping records) and the sharing of important information with all members are other factors you should consider if you want to prevent future conflicts.
how to deal with conflicts?
The group leaders or group promoters can deal with the conflict in several ways:
Ignore the conflict, in time it may resolve itself.
If the cause is a lack of communication or transparency, as much information as possible should be given. Proper records should be kept in order to avoid conflicts due to transparency problems (see section 2.3 keeping records).
If the conflict is caused by social power differences, try to have an equal representation of all sub groups in the group/management team.
Organize talks between all parties and try to come to an agreement/ compromise between the conflicting members.
Invite an outside advisor to facilitate the discussion and try to come to an agreement.
Remove the conflicting member(s), although this could lead to other conflicts with other members.
Links with other organizations and programmes are very important because they can assist and complement the activities of the group. Strong links with other organizations can give the group financial or political benefits and can facilitate the access to information. It is important to know which milk production related activities there are in the area. To improve links, you can:
Make sure a proper survey of all milk production related activities is carried out as described in step 2 of section 2.1, and find out what other organizations are doing in the area.
Involve other organizations in the planning stages of the group.
Set up an advisory board with outside advisors who have a wide knowledge of milk production related activities in the area.
Invite outsiders to the annual meetings and training courses.
Try to work with other organizations as much as possible.
dairy institutional diagram
A dairy institutional diagram (see section 6.3) can help in exploring possible links with other organizations. A collaboration matrix (see section 6.8) can assist in working out in more detail the specific collaboration activities between the group and another organization.
As mentioned before, one of the advantages of a group is in economies of scale, and this is even more significant for a group of groups, which we will call group associations. In an association of groups, a number of groups can pool their resources. Below it is explained what an association is, what it can do, and how to proceed when starting one. If you want to know more about how to start a group association, an excellent reference is the FAO Inter-group resource book.
FAO inter-group resource book
What is a group association?
A group association is a self-governing association of milk producer groups at, for example, a district or regional level. At a higher level, the association may be linked to a national milk producer union. The association provides services and benefits to improve the economic and social conditions of the group.
The advantages of forming a group association include:
Better opportunities for sharing ideas and information and exchanging experiences
Better bargaining power in bulk purchasing of inputs
Better access to and larger loans for individual groups through the establishment of milk producer group association savings funds
Assistance in preparation and negotiation of bank loans for individual groups
Better access to distant markets through joint marketing of goods
Assistance in developing programmes to improve quality and packaging
More effective representation of groups to governments and service organizations
Better training through courses for bigger groups or better access to training run by government or development agencies
More effective public relations and advertising campaigns.
It is important to clearly establish the functions and responsibilities of the associations at district, regional and national levels to avoid overlap and a waste of resources. As in the case of individual groups, a set of objectives must be agreed and bylaws established to facilitate the smooth functioning of the association.