I could share stories for days about things that have happened at Grunder Landscaping Co., and the landscaping companies I work with. I think if you have a good attitude and a clear vision of what’s possible for your business and what success looks like, these decisions become easy. The important thing to understand is that when you are a leader, you are always learning and getting better.
Issue No.1: A former member of your team shows up at your office during the day with all of his kids. He proceeds to stay with your team for an hour while you, the owner, sit stewing about all the things that aren’t getting done. The former team member is a super nice person and left on good terms, but this isn’t a great time for this. What do you do?
A) Have a nuclear meltdown, throw stuff, throw him out of the office and yell at everyone.
B) Turn on the voice mail, sit down and join the party.
C) Go up, say hello to the former team member and ask him if he could possibly come back at lunch on a scheduled day and attend the next cookout when everyone is in a better position to spend time with him and then make a note to discuss how to handle this situation in the future.
D) Do nothing. It’s just what comes with the territory, be glad he came in, it shows he likes your company and tell him to stop by again soon, but for 3 hours instead of 1.
Correct answer? C is the one I like.
You have to try to remain calm by setting a good example yourself. I went up, said hello and then quickly got back to work, hoping everyone saw my example. We talked about it and now my team is prepared to handle it better next time. We are totally open to former team members visiting us. We just want it done in a fashion that does not interrupt our business and efforts to be profitable.
Issue No.2: Your competition pulls into your yard with their quad-cab truck and trailer. There are five people in the truck. The driver gets out, asks your team where the office is and walks into the office to fill out an application. What do you do?
A) Hire him and the 4 guys with him, heck, keep the truck, trailer and equipment, too. No one will ever know.
B) Make the guy CEO. With guts like that, he can do anything.
C) Yell at the applicant, tell him he’s a thief, run him off the property and throw rocks at his truck.
D) Remain calm, take pictures of the truck, don’t hire him and call the company to report what happened.
Correct answer? D is the one I like.
This just happened at our company. It was a great teaching moment. We used it as a springboard to talk about our core values and discussed how wrong this was on many levels. I called the branch manager for this company, told him what happened and said I wanted to meet him sometime and share the information with him. Not out of spite, but because I would want to know if one of my teams did something like this. It made me realize that having a rapport with your team is important and you have to constantly be working on your culture and making sure your place is a good place to work. You hope that if you treat your team fairly, they will do the same to you and I think that’s the case.
Issue No.3: You find out that a long-time employee has been doing work on the side using your computers, software and time. You’re really surprised and not sure what to do. You investigate and confirm it’s been going on for 2 years. You find more than 30 drawings he’s done and all sorts of e-mails sent. Your attorney says you have every right to terminate him immediately. It’s spring and you need his help, however, your gut tells you to fire him. Your handbook clearly states that type of conduct is not allowed. What a mess. What do you do?
A) Ignore it; you can’t afford to lose him.
B) Congratulate him for tricking you, give him a bonus, and recognize him for his conduct at the summer picnic.
C) Verbally warn him and get back to work.
D) Terminate him for violating the company handbook and working on personal work on company time.
Correct Answer? D is the best.
It’s so hard for us small business owners to take action like this on people we trusted and depended on. However, unless you want to have a company full of this type of behavior, I firmly believe you have to address things like this swiftly and professionally. In my opinion, this is theft. I am not an attorney so you need to talk to one before you do anything. My client who dealt with this recently moved swiftly and found a part-time person to help fill the void. He overcame it and, at last report, he said that was actually a good thing.
Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See www.martygrunder.com; mail