ASK THE EXPERTS is presented in partnership with PLANET’s Trailblazers On Call program. Trailblazers are industry leaders who volunteer their time and expertise to give back to the industry.
Q. We have had issues for several years now with our employees and things such as accountability, leadership, common sense, etc. We can’t seem to get through a day without mistakes and, for lack of a better word, “babysitting” to make sure things are being done properly.
We don’t feel that any of our crew members have the ability to be a crew leader. We even tried a couple of them out this year to make sure; this was a big failure. We have tried rewards, punishments, incentives, bonuses, etc. Our wages are very competitive for this area and we offer full benefits. Any ideas on how to find/groom a crew leader? We have an operations manager, but he oversees all five services and can’t spend his entire day following around six guys to make sure things get done properly.
A. Look at your internal customers – your employees. You may not be holding them to a high enough standard that they may want (unknowingly) or need to appreciate the job.
Find out what makes them tick. Give them an anonymous internal customer survey that allows them to tell you what is wrong. Good employees are the key to success in any service business, and it does not matter what position they hold. I think the saying goes, “You are only as good as your worst employee.” Don’t settle for poor performance, poor attitude or people that just don’t care. No matter how bad your situation is, there are always people willing and eager to work for a company that holds its employees to a higher standard and that respects their jobs and them as individuals. Broaden your scope of recruiting. Look for areas where people are trying to improve themselves and their lives by learning. Local community colleges or trade schools may have great people that don’t know much about the industry.
Remember everyone is in sales whether they know it or not. They represent your company, and if you as an owner don’t hold them to a higher standard, what do you think your customers, internal or external, will think and see if there is no accountability?
Joe Markell, Landscape Industry Certified Manager, Sunrise Landscape & Design
Q. Hiring is expensive. Does anyone use any type of online candidate assessment system? An online assessment system provides the kind of critical information you need to understand what your candidates are like, from both a personality and an intellectual perspective.
This kind of essential information can’t be easily determined from just interviews. Have you used these systems? If so, do you like them?
A. Yes, we use an online assessment service. It has proven to be a great deal of help in assessing various candidates for different positions.
We set up individual templates for our various job descriptions. We then beta tested by having our existing team members take the different tests and evaluating/modifying the templates for effectiveness. We know ourselves ... warts and all.
An additional unintended use was in the review process. The evaluation process for the tests exposed for our team members strengths and weaknesses that we have been able to use in our internal process of self improvement.
Fred Haskett, Landscape Industry Certified Manager, U.S. Lawns of West St. Louis and St. Charles County
A. You might also try Predictive Index, an online tool found at goo.gl/424Ro.
Bruce Wilson, Wilson-Oyler Group
Have a question for the experts? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.