Proper and professional communication is the key to success with both staff and clients. Sometimes owners get too busy and forget to listen, but everyone needs to feel important (because they are).
No matter who the employee is or what level he or she is working at, everyone needs—and deserves—a ‘pat on the back.’ From the labourer who is packing the truck to the lead hand who is learning and working at the same time, a simple ‘thank you’ from the boss can go a long way. It is all about relationship management and appreciating those who contribute to the final result, from the design concept to the realization of the client’s dream.
Conversely, the wrong word or attitude from a leader can demoralize the entire team. No matter how stressful or dire the situation, it is important to handle all situations professionally. Attitude is what we bring to work every morning and what we take home to our families at the end of every day—but it is also a choice we make. Ensuring the pressures of the day do not take over your mental state is extremely important to relationships and productivity.
Also remember that while the properties landscapers work on are jobsites, they are also the clients’ homes. It is the owner’s job to ensure all employees are aware of this. It is also important to communicate to the client how the job will impact their life. This will lead to better relationships with the client and demonstrates that the company truly cares.
Once a solid team is built, it is important to continue nurturing it. One of the primary ways this can be done is with ongoing training. Whether it is hands-on or classroom- or seminar-based, this must happen on a day-to-day basis if a company is to move forward. Every team member needs to be responsible for learning and applying new techniques. By making training a top priority, new skills can be developed by all—and new leaders can emerge.
Training must also extend to the company’s health and safety policies. The welfare and well-being of employees must be of utmost concern. In addition to the obvious goodwill health and safety protocols establish with employees, a comprehensive policy can also prevent negative impacts, such as local labour authorities stopping work on a job site in which unsafe practices are being used. This can result in a financial burden on both the employees and employer, as fines can and will be issued. Health and safety is not something to be taken lightly. Landscape business owners have an obligation to their staff, clients and themselves to follow regulations properly.
The team must also learn to stay focused on the job at hand—don’t overthink the project, just get it done. Processes and plans are a fundamental part of any successful landscape business, but ensuring the employees are working smartly and efficiently to get the job done is just as essential. Learn to trust your intuition and teach employees to do the same. Sometimes, even the best-laid plans can be trumped by a simple gut instinct.
Move forward as a team
By taking these lessons seriously, landscape professionals can build strong teams and great working relationships. This will not only translate into a healthier company, but also a happier personal life.
As an employee of Allweather Landscape Co. Ltd., for the past 24 years, Brian Clegg has mentored many landscapers on all elements of the business. For the last 14 years, he has worked as a project manager, where he has focused on developing leaders. Brian has been involved with Landscape Ontario for more than 15 years, where he has served on the board and conducted various seminars. He has also taught at Toronto’s Humber College for the past two years. Brian can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.