If you own a landscaping company, you don’t need us to tell you that crew turnover is painful and expensive. What you do need are proven tips for retaining top talent. This article reveals the 6 secrets we’ve learned about coaching from the best landscaping companies so you can coach your way into a crew that stays with you.


You’ve probably heard the phrase “teachable moments.” (If not, a teachable moment is a situation that has a built-in lesson or opportunity for learning.) Good coaches are on the lookout for these moments and use them to recognize the positive things their crew members are doing as well as things that can be improved. One important advantage of informal, in-the-moment feedback is that it can be immediately applied (or enjoyed). Another plus is that crew members are often more open to feedback that’s offered right away, especially when the feedback is delivered in a clear, helpful way.


If a sports team doesn’t know the rules of the game or sees that the rules are always changing, the players won’t know what it takes to win or what will earn them a penalty—and they aren’t going to make it to the championships. It’s the same for your landscaping crew. A good coach takes the time to explain what is expected of his or her team members, then repeats those expectations regularly. Be consistent, clear, concise and creative in your messages so that your team listens to what you have to say instead of tuning you out.


In order to inspire trust, confidence and a desire to do the right thing in your team, you need to walk your talk when it comes to company policies, company values and the things that create a positive work environment. Do you follow the rules? Do you use equipment properly? Do you gossip? Do you take your stress out on others? Do you offer encouragement? Do you demonstrate a willingness to learn new things? Do you ask for help when you aren’t sure how to approach something? Your crew is watching you. You may expect them to “do as I say” but they’re much more likely to “do as you do” instead.


Everyone is different. What brought me to this point in life isn’t what brought you here. What I experience every day isn’t what you do. What brings me joy (or stresses me out) is unique to me. A successful coach gets to know his or her crew members as individuals so that the work environment can be tailored to the crew’s needs as much as possible. Knowing your team members as individuals also allows a coach to offer feedback, whether it’s recognition or criticism, in the most effective way possible.


Danny Downer and Negative Nancy are not great coaches. Instead, recognize when things are going well. Be encouraging of the small steps people are taking in the right direction. Create ways for team members to be positive and encourage each other. See mistakes, as much as possible, as opportunities to learn. And when you experience worry, stress and frustration, share it with your boss, not your crew.


People feel valued when they’re consulted (provided they see their input makes a difference). Ask your crew members questions to learn about what they like and don’t like; what they know and don’t know; and what they need to meet—or exceed—the expectations of the job. Better to ask your crew members questions and learn from their answers than to assume you know everything.