Monday, December 22, 2014

Marty Grunder


Foot, meet mouth

Industry Voices

December 11, 2014

Marty Grunder

Here’s the deal, folks. We are always being watched and listened to – always. More thought and consideration need to go into what we say. Why can I say this? I’ve learned the hard way. All eight things referenced below are things I’ve said and I’ve regretted all of them.

Here are three statements owners never want to hear their team members say:

1. That’s not my job. If you truly understand the vision for your landscaping company, you would never say this. Owners of small businesses want teammates who will do whatever it takes to win. We all have to work together and not worry about what our job is and isn’t, and instead, worry about what our internal clients (team members) and external clients (customers) want and need. All of us have parts of our jobs we don’t like; that’s life. Saying it’s not your job won’t endear you to anyone.

2. I don’t want to embrace change. Charles Kettering said, “The only thing constant in life is change.” No one likes change. We dread it as it makes our lives more complicated, even only temporarily. Change is the only thing that can make us better. Would you rather have a doctor use techniques from 1971 or 2014? Owners want people running alongside us that support us, believe in us and are willing to support some of our weird ideas because, quite frankly, some of them have worked.

3. I’m quitting. Yep, we don’t like hearing that. It’s the owner’s responsibility to have a nice, equitable workplace. It’s the owner’s responsibility to treat you well. And, it’s the owner’s responsibility to talk to you if you aren’t doing a good job and praise you when you are. We never want to hear you say, “I’m quitting!” So, if you have an owner who hasn’t learned how to have a dialog with you, reach out first and ask, “How am I doing? What can I do better?” It’s hard to find good people and it’s hard to find a good job. If the good at your place outweighs the bad, push the issue and talk to the owner. Don’t say, “I quit,” say, “Can I talk to you about some issues?” Then work them out.


Here are five statements I have heard owners make that they should never say:

1. Woe is me; I’m not making money. Your team doesn’t want to hear this and won’t understand or relate to it. The owner is the leader. If you’re not making money, it’s not their fault. Everything that goes sideways in your company is your fault, and until you look at things that way, you won’t improve. If you’re not making money, complaining to your team won’t help. Talking to your advisors and your team about improving will.

2. I built this business from scratch. Really? All by yourself? I don’t think so. You had help, not from the government, but from a team of committed professionals on your payroll. Recognize your team every time you can. Say, “We built this business.”

3. You did a good job. I hear this so often, but what does it mean? Your team doesn’t want to hear general comments like that. They want sincere, specific compliments. For example, “Jim, you did an awesome job at the Winland residence. There was not ONE detail you missed. The beds were perfect; the lines were crisp; heck, even the door mat was clean.” That’s a well-thought-out compliment that your team remembers and is sincere. It’s something they will share with others.

4. I’m working hard so I can buy my wife a Lexus (or some other item that doesn’t have anything to do with the business). How does this help your team? Any type of self-aggrandizing comment isn’t appropriate. It’s better to be humble and not share things that don’t help them. Be humble; be classy; keep your personal life to yourself. You don’t need to apologize for what your hard work has gotten you. You just don’t need to brag about it. Your team wants to hear you talk about doing things for them.

5. Mrs. Jones didn’t pay, so I can’t pay you. That’s an excuse and no member of your team wants to hear that. Why is it their fault you didn’t get a check from Mrs. Jones? The best thing the owner can do is model the behavior they want to see in their teams. The best leaders lead by example so, lead by example, take heed to all of the above and don’t make excuses. Lou Holtz, the football coach, said it best, “Don’t tell me how rocky the sea is, just bring the darn ship in.”


Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See; mail