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Grow with Grunder: Why everything rises and falls with leadership

December 14, 2021 -  By

The biggest challenge I expect most landscape professionals will face in 2022 is with finding and keeping team members. At Grunder Landscaping Co. (GLC), we’re already thinking about what we need to do to be successful when the busy season returns for us in March.

(Photo: SolStock/E+/Getty Images)

(Photo: SolStock/E+/Getty Images)

We are constantly talking about how we can do a better job of keeping the great team members we have because great team members are hard to come by. We know that first and foremost, we do this by making our company a great place to work.

We do a lot at GLC to make sure our team members know we appreciate them: We have cookouts, we do company events, we drop off Gatorades and snacks to job sites, we periodically buy everyone lunch and we always remember our team members’ birthdays and work anniversaries. These little things add up, but I’m not naive enough to believe that someone will stay in a job they don’t enjoy just because they get a treat every so often. We absolutely need to keep doing these small gestures, but we also need to think about how we make our team’s roles enjoyable and fulfilling daily.

Our crews spend about 30 minutes a day at our shop on average, and our leadership team may or may not speak to them at all during that time. In contrast, team members are spending eight hours a day with their crews. The two other people on the crew are really who will help them love their jobs or drive them to quit.

Emphasis on soft skills

This winter, we’re investing in training our whole team, as we always do, and we’re putting a special focus on training our team leaders on soft skills. Our team leaders are the managers on-site with crews daily, and we need them to be as skilled in leadership, communication and conflict management as they are in caring for our clients’ properties. We want to equip them to be the best leaders they can be so the culture within their crews is so strong that people don’t want to leave.

We did our first soft-skills training with them in October. I led it with our 20 team leaders before they went out on job sites for the day. We talked about the types of leaders we enjoy working for and what makes them special. My goal was to get them thinking: Am I the type of leader I would want to work for? How could I do a better job of leading and mentoring my direct reports? What do I know that I can teach my crew, and how can I help them to learn and grow, too? I was impressed with how engaged and interested they were.

When the busy season hits, all of us will likely be working hard to find new team members. In that quest, make sure you don’t overlook the talent already on your team. Take time each week to train, educate and mentor them on both technical skills and soft skills. My team has done a great job getting talent in the door, and now it’s our job to train them and be the best leaders we can be for them. Everything rises and falls with leadership.

We’ll start 2022 at The Grow Group with a series of virtual events designed to help teams with teaching and growing their teams: “Build a Winning Training Program,” “Finding & Fielding a Winning Team” and “Time Management for Landscape Pros” are all on the schedule. Learn more: growgroupinc.com/winning-training-program.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in 1221, Current Issue, From the Magazine
Marty Grunder

About the Author:

Marty Grunder is president and CEO of Grunder Landscaping Co. and The Grow Group, based in Dayton, Ohio.

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