No matter where you work, if you’re part of a team, you’ve experienced a workplace culture — whether a positive or negative one.
Negative cultures are easy to spot, and they feel like walking in sludge when you’re part of them. Teams and crews aren’t motivated, sometimes they’re cynical, and often the company lacks professionalism. For clients like you, that means poor workmanship, late or missed work, cut corners, headaches — the list can go on for some time!
You’re reading this as a client or a colleague. I want to speak to clients — or potential clients — especially. It’s important to know what goes on behind the scenes at your landscape firm… but why?
Let me tell you.
The story of the sketch on my office wall.
I keep a sketch on my office wall to remind me of my roots in the green industry and of what it feels like to be out in the field rather than in an office.
I never want to feel so disconnected from those on the frontlines of the company that I neglect to improve their working conditions. That’s why we started practicing Open-Book Management. And also why we started regularly surveying our team.
I started my career at Hartney Greymont where I cut my teeth in my early 20s. I worked in the field as a foreman, learning all about horticulture and landscaping. And while all that practical field knowledge comes in handy, I also took away something much more valuable — a real-life example of how a healthy company culture is crucial to the success of your entire team.
When I worked at Hartney, the culture was undeniably positive. The management there worked hard to foster an environment for learning, training and growth, and we do our very best to mimic that culture here at Landscape America.
I continue to be thankful that I was fortunate enough to experience that before my brother and I founded this company. It’s shaped our culture in a lot of ways!
How we shape our culture: Open-Book Management, team members taking ownership, and regularly surveying our team.
We’ve covered our Open-Book Management practice in multiple posts already. That’s one of the things that has positively affected our culture the most.
Something else we’ve started is regular team surveys. It seems like a really simple thing to do, but it can often slip through the cracks at workplaces because it can be a hassle to coordinate.
We started surveying team members three years ago, and let me tell you — it has helped us transform our culture, improve retention and even improve hiring. It’s important to really dive deep into both the positive and negative feedback, regardless of how petty or minuscule it may seem.
Earlier this year, I reviewed our latest team survey and these were some of my takeaways, both positive and negative.
What keeps our team dedicated and loyal?
- It’s a fun place to work.
- There’s great communication between management and the team. — Most commented on the positive impact Open-Book Management has had on this.
- Our team feels like family — We all care for one another and support each other.
- There’s respect from the owners and managers for those working on the front lines.
What should we work to improve?
- More training.
- More equipment for maintenance.
- Better guidelines for phone usage on sites.
I was so excited to see the team ask for more training! We already host weekly foreman training events, weekly safety talks, horticulture training, snow training, onboarding training days, spring kick-off training, financial training and more. But they wanted more, and they deserved it.
So next year, we’re revamping our training plan and building a more elaborate scheduled training calendar. I actually thought the team was feeling like we spent too much time on this! Thankfully, we asked, and they cared enough to answer. That’s the power a simple survey can have — especially when the team has the ability to answer anonymously rather than speak up directly to management.
Some other pieces of feedback we’ve implemented as a result of surveys…
- Company gatherings and cookouts: Our team has formed a committee of four team members and they plan and prepare our monthly cookouts and gatherings. Andy and I give them a budget each year, and they plan any events, food, and drinks to build camaraderie and bond as a team. Allowing this committee to take full ownership and implement their ideas has improved our culture dramatically. It allows all of us to connect and be together once a month. Sometimes we even involve team members’ families!
- Policy: Suggestions have been made and implemented on many of our policies, including phone usage on job sites, PTO (personal time off), wages for winter help, training and safety.
- Equipment: We have invested in more mowers, ride-on leaf blowers, and many machine attachments such as a suction tool on our excavator to set large steps and slabs — all based on employee feedback.
As you can see, a major reason we change, implement new ideas and seek constant improvement is based on our team’s ideas and feedback.
But for you, our valued client, I hope this post emphasizes a healthy culture and a team that cares! We pride ourselves on professionalism and an outstanding experience for you. And I firmly believe this is a result of a company culture that encourages individual input, superior customer service and continual improvement.
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