Forming a team

"Employee" is a dirty word at Quality Irrigation. Here's why.

July 18, 2013
Lindsey Getz

Ryan Jardine, president and founder of Quality Irrigation in Omaha, believes in team work. In fact he believes in it so strongly that he doesn’t like the term “employee ”– he prefers “volunteer” – and he constantly attributes his company’s success to the entire team. While John “Hannibal” Smith had the “A Team,” Jardine has the “Q Team,” a name that started as a marketing ploy but has really stuck. When talking about the Q Team, Jardine discusses how every member plays a critical role. He recently shared some of his best tips for putting together a great team.

Be slow to hire. In terms of recruiting new team members Jardine says that the current team is the best tool. “That’s because if someone comes in and talks to our people they see how happy they are,” he says.
He also takes the hiring process quite seriously. “I’m always amazed that people get hired after a one hour interview,” Jardine says. “That’s a one hour investment of your time compared to a minimum of 2,080 hours they’ll be putting in while working for you. We try to spend more time with our future team members and not just hire them after a quick interview.”

Be quick to fire. Firing someone is never easy to do but Jardine says that one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch. He says that a good way to know whether someone isn’t a good fit for the company is to ask yourself honestly if you’d rehire them again. “If the answer is no, you should free up their future to do something else instead of just hanging on to them,” Jardine says. Because firing is a tough thing to do, many company owners do hang on to employees for longer than they should but Jardine has a tip for biting the bullet. “As soon as you know you need to fire someone, get an accountability partner,” he suggests. “Tell them who you’re planning to fire and in what time frame and then if you don’t do it, you have someone holding you accountable to that plan. The person at the top doesn’t always have someone holding them accountable and they can waiver on their word. That’s why you have to put yourself in a position where you can be held accountable for not following through.”

Create camaraderie. Part of the reason Jardine is constantly using the terminology “Q team” is to remind everyone that he really does view them as a team. He’s also adamant about using the word “our.” “I never say ‘that my truck’ or ‘those are mine,’” Jardine says. “It’s always ‘ours.’ I do understand why people are apt to say ‘mine’ when they built the company from the ground up, like I did. But I also recognize that I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without my team and I want everyone to know that.”