In the best selling business book “Good To Great,” author Jim Collins makes a bold statement. While analyzing some of the world’s most successful companies, Collins realized that the difference between a good company and a great company was not a unique product, technology, vision, or charismatic leader; it was all about the people. As Collins says, “great vision without great people is irrelevant.”
We know that hiring employees can be one of the hardest things in running a successful landscaping business. Turnover rates are high, and employee engagement and satisfaction are low. So how do you change that? By using continuous feedback and regular performance reviews.
In a competitive industry like landscaping, having the right employees is crucial to your business. Your crew members are the frontline employees whose hard work creates direct value for your business and your customers. If your employees are just “good,” eventually a competitor whose employees are “great” will come along and put you out of business. By committing to providing continuous feedback through performance reviews you can turn good employees into great ones.
So, what makes a "great" employee??
Thats a great question, and we’re glad you asked. You see, great employees are not born. Great employees are made, and they are made by great leaders. So what makes a great leader, and how do great leaders transform good employees into great ones?
A great leader is someone who:
- Is passionate about what they do, and is able to effectively communicate that passion
- Is not afraid to hear the brutal truth and actively seeks feedback from those around them
- Takes responsibility for their failures, using them as an opportunity to improve
- Knows how to build others up and ensure that they can succeed without any hand-holding
- Puts the success of the business before their personal success, understanding that an empire lasts a lot longer than the span of a human life.
We know that leading from the front is hard to do. As a business owner, you have enough on your plate, we get it. But coaching and motivating your team (especially managers and crew leaders) is the number one skill you need to grow your business into an empire.
When you’re a great leader, you can start to turn good employees into great ones simply by encouraging them to follow your example. When you are open and transparent with your employees, seek their feedback and give them praise you’ll not only create great employees, but you’ll also hold on to those great employees.
We already know what a great leader looks like, so let's look at a great employee.
A great employee is someone who:
- Shares in their leaders passion, and uses it to produce amazing results
- Actively seeks feedback on their performance
- Understands that there are times where they are going to get something wrong and isn't afraid to take ownership of their mistakes
- Is independent and self motivated
- Understand that their work is meaningful
Now, this all sounds really great. It would be awesome to have these types of employees. But how on earth are you supposed to get these types of people to work for you?
Actually, they already do.
How consistent feedback makes for great employees
As we’ve already mentioned, great employees are made by consistent effort and attention. No one is born a great employee (or a great leader, for that matter). Greatness is, as Jim Collins says, “not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice.” Making better choices comes easier through consistent feedback and training.
We know that it’s impossible for you to meet with all your employees all of the time, but encouraging your leadership team to adopt a consistent feedback model of performance reviews will help you to communicate your passion throughout your business.
The company owner also plays a role. By making a conscious choice to provide consistent feedback to your management team (crew leaders and supervisors) and encouraging them to do the same with their teams, you can help your team achieve greatness.
For crew leaders & supervisors
Commit to weekly check-ins with management
Your weekly check-ins with your leadership team doesn’t have to be a formal review with documentation. Instead, take 30 minutes a week to meet with your managers. It’s obvious that people are people. Not everyone will always get along and social skills are learned behaviours. Weekly check-ins are great places to help coach the skills that management needs to ensure your business succeeds.
Focus on the thorns and the roses
When giving feedback, it’s easy to focus on the things that you don’t like about supervisor. While great employees encourage and seek out feedback, you want to make sure that feedback constructive. Work on praising the things that your supervisor does well (the roses), but don’t be afraid to be honest about the things done wrong (the thorns). Ask how you can help that person improve on their weaknesses.
Be open and transparent
Use these weekly feedback meetings as an opportunity to be open and transparent about the business goals and objectives. Not only will this help your employees to understand where the business is going, it will also help them understand their importance and place in the business. Clearly show how their hard work is a part of your plan and contributes to building something great.
For frontline crew members
Send it down the chain
The amazing thing about consistent feedback and performance reviews is that they apply to your whole organization! This kind of management can be a bit of a shock if you are just starting to roll it out so start by implementing it with your management team first. Once you are comfortable with the process (and your supervisors and crew leaders are comfortable with it too) encourage your management team adopt a similar approach to provide feedback to their teams.
While your consistent feedback starts to take effect, transforming good supervisors into great ones, make sure the benefits move down the organization. Encourage management to meet with their crew members for feedback sessions as well. By empowering managers and leaders to communicate with their teams, you build a strong network and a great place to work.
Simply encourage your supervisors and crew leaders to use the same system of weekly check-ins, giving constructive feedback by focusing on the thorns and roses, and foster open and transparent communication!