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Creating a healthy team within your landscape company

August 4, 2014 -  By

Teamwork2A healthy company is a productive place where staff members feel valued and empowered. This is possible because there’s a cohesive leadership team who behaves in a functional way. Leaders are aligned around the company’s mission and know what they need to do to make the business perform.

After a career of working for a mix of landscape companies, I’ve noticed there’s a distinct difference in the attributes between healthy companies and dysfunctional ones. On the surface, both types can look the same and share some of the same characteristics. The difference is the companies with cohesive leadership and operational functionality consistently outperform their competitors.

Why? Because in really successful companies, things just get done.

Healthy companies have the right mix of organizational and personal accountability. Everyone rows in the same direction. There’s little fanfare, friction and uncertainty, and nearly everyone in the organization reflects confidence and clarity of purpose. When problems arise, everyone projects a “whatever it takes” attitude and problems get solved quickly.

In less healthy companies, there’s a different pattern. Politics trump process, communications aren’t integrated and there’s no shared accountability. When problems arise, the person who’s responsible for the problem has to solve the problem alone. The ultimate victim is the customer.

It’s possible to create a healthy company your customers will love to work with and your employees will want to work for. Here’s where to start.

Create team alignment. Leadership and staff must be in sync on values. Is everyone on the same page regarding mission/purpose, behavior, the work and what it will take to succeed? People who aren’t honest and respectful to this approach or aren’t in sync with the team will jeopardize alignment.

Create cultural alignment. The culture must evolve around expected outcomes, such as flawless delivery of your service or product, uncompromising levels of customer service, a culture of mutual respect among team members and leaders who walk the talk.

Create a culture of accountability and empowerment. Leadership must over-communicate what’s true and important and hold everyone accountable to results. Managers must be available and not become a bottleneck to deadlines and shared objectives. Leaders can’t be shy about pushing the team to get better every day and repeatedly reinforce messages that support and emphasize the uniqueness of the organization. Eliminate barriers and allow employees to take their initiative, be creative and accept responsibility for their actions. Never allow things to come to a dead end on someone’s desk.

Create customer-centric culture. Ensure the customer’s experience with your business is more important than your corporate fiefdoms.

Create a culture of communication. Any process involving people, from performance management to decision making (internally and externally), must be done in a way that keeps dialogue open, blame-free and results-oriented.

Create a culture of expectations. Make expectations and deliverables very clear. Evaluate team members on results that are measurable, attainable and aligned with team and strategic growth goals.

Create a culture of courtesy. Remind your employees you are glad they work for you. They could be working for someone else. Reward performance with recognition and high fives (and monetary incentives when appropriate). Simple gestures mean a lot. Say “please” and “thank you” and “great job” when it is. Everyone shares in the success and toxic behavior is not allowed.

Create an excuse-free environment. Make everyone accountable for team results. It doesn’t matter who generates the problem or who solves the problem. The problem must be solved quickly and as smoothly as possible for the customer, and then everyone moves on. No excuses.

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About the Author:

The author, of the Wilson-Oyler Group, is a 30-year industry veteran. Reach him at

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