It costs 16-20% of a landscaping crew member’s yearly salary to refine, train, and deploy them onto a job site. Hiring from scratch from season to season is painful, slow, and expensive. Consider the hours spent drafting up job advertisements for crew members and foremen, vetting through CVs and resumes, and finally interviewing the finalists. As a landscape business owner, you spend too many hours of your time hiring, and your time has great value when you consider all the other tasks you need to complete before the first shovels hit the ground between estimates, budgeting, and maintaining your landscape equipment. Keeping crew members in your landscape or lawn care business is essential to keeping profitable so you can hit the ground at a full sprint when the first jobs of the season come around. We’ll share some landscape leadership secrets so you can coach your way into a crew that stays with your landscape business.
#1 Landscaping Crew Members Thrive On Feedback
Good landscaping leaders recognize teachable moments to provide crew members feedback on the tasks they’re doing. We’re not telling you to pat a crew member on the back each time they dig a hole with a shovel, but to step in and provide valuable feedback on a job well done or provide respectful instruction on how to do a job if there’s a more efficient way of doing it. Informal and on-the-job training and feedback has more value than scolding or lecturing a crew member at lunch or at the end of the day when they’ve moved on from the task. Also teach somehow how you’d like to be taught, respectfully and with a positive tone and intentions. Screaming and yelling is a waste of time and energy.
#2 Be Clear About Expectations On A Jobsite
If you or your crew leads didn’t breakdown the job and expectations in the morning huddle and something goes wrong, that’s on the leadership and not the crew. Proper delegation, instruction, and teamwork are the only ways to stay efficient and profitable. Finding the line between micromanaging and autonomy lands at setting expectations. Greener crew members will sit down on their phone if they’re not given a list of tasks to complete, and busy work can only be so productive until it gets to the point where financially wasteful and unnecessary movement happens. Understand why you’re setting landscaping labor budgets where they are, learn how long it takes to complete certain tasks with tracking hours through job costing, and lead your team by walking them through what a job well done looks like through your eyes. Your landscaping business loses profits when the crews start tuning you out.
#3 Practice What You Preach
Secrets of the trade are picked up through observation and teaching. If your secrets of the trade are bad habits, be sure to expect bad work from your crew. Practice good work habits on the job site and watch that influence spread to positive results. Make sure that teaching moments are sincere and thorough, and emphasize building a culture of safety and efficiency, especially in that order. Employers that promote safe work and show that they care about their crew’s health stand a better chance of retaining crew members between seasons. In a way, crew members keep accountable and police safety amongst each other when that culture of safety exists, and that culture builder starts at the top through leadership. The last thing you want is that goof of a crew member doing something stupid that can hurt others at a job site.
#4 Know Your People
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. This also applies to career development. Knowing the career aspirations of your landscaping crew members is a win-win scenario as you can develop and promote from within, which will later lead to increased productivity within your crews and career progression for the individual. Stunting career growth can push crew members away to other landscape businesses which brings you back to the hiring stage to find a replacement.
#5 Positive Attitudes Boost Productivity
Embrace a positive attitude! Nobody wants to work for a grump. Landscaping is hard enough work, and negative attitudes only bring down those around you. Without hamming it up, embrace positivity and recognize the great work and achievements ahead. Leaders even take the negatives and spin those opportunities into positive lessons. Everyone wants to work for a leader that has their back. Create the landscaping business crew members want to work for, rather than the one that simply gives a paycheck.
#6 Get Feedback From Your Landscaping Crew
Embrace the experience of others. Feedback from your crew is a valuable asset to help improve operations, whether it’s equipment that could be used to be more efficient, needing support for certain jobs, or simply learning what kind of work they enjoy. Acting on feedback shows crew members that they are heard and valued. Great leadership extends past telling people what and how to do stuff, and can sometimes be as simple as listening and learning from others. It’s always better to ask your crew members questions and learn from their answers than to assume you know everything.
Learn How To Lead A Landscaping Crew
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