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Become a talent magnet

May 10, 2015 -  By
iS21152697people-magnet Illustration: ©

Illustration: ©

“There aren’t enough people interested in working in the cold, at night, plowing and shoveling snow. We’re worried about being able to perform the work we’ve sold. A similar problem exists on the green side, but at least the work is more steady and during the day.”

Sound familiar? Many snow and ice professionals today tell themselves these same things. The reality is labor problems appear in all industries. It’s time we face reality, roll up our sleeves and get busy. This is a serious problem and we need to get serious about the solution. We need to become magnets for snow talent.

To solve any problem sufficiently, we first need to define it. The real problem isn’t that there aren’t enough available people to supervise territories, drive our trucks or work on shovel crews; the real problem is that available people are in high demand, and if we’re not a magnet for snow talent, we will fail to attract the people we need.

To become a magnet for snow talent, we need to do more than amp up our recruiting, but let’s take a look at this process. While it may seem straightforward, a comprehensive approach to recruiting is more than meets the eye. To assess the strength of this area in your company, answer the following list of questions and make note of the questions you can’t answer “yes” to.

Recruiting-related questions:
-Is someone responsible for recruitment strategy and processes?
-Does a written job description exist for the position?
-Are job postings written and approved well in advance?
-Are situational interview questions prepared and in writing?
-Are interviews conducted with two or more interviewers in a group setting to reduce bias?
-Are final candidates asked to participate in one or more pre-employment assessments?
-Are job offers in writing and professionally prepared?
-When an offer is accepted, does a written onboarding process exist?
-Are new employees provided a formal orientation?
-Are new employees assigned a coach or mentor?
-Are new employees provided with a date or time frame for their first feedback review?
-Is the new employee recognized in front of his or her peers?

Of course, not all positions require all these items to be in place. However, if you want to be a magnet for snow talent, each item should be answered in the affirmative for some positions.

Earlier in my career, I was running dispatch for a large commercial snow and ice management company. I’ll never forget the night Dave Smith (actual name has been changed) showed up for work. Dave was not just your typical sidewalk crew captain; he was the prototype in every regard.

As he entered the control room, I asked him if he was “ready for the snow.” His response was priceless. He looked at me like I had insulted him, and said, “Am I ready for the snow? Is the snow ready for me?”

Dave was a talented sidewalk captain. He motivated his crew through servant leadership and enthusiasm. There are plenty of “Daves” out there, working in other capacities and for other companies.

How will you find them and attract them to your company? By being a magnet for snow talent.


Phil Harwood

About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

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