Grow with Grunder: Why focusing on soft skills sets your business apart

February 28, 2023 -  By
(Photo: PeopleImages/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

(Photo: PeopleImages/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

I’ve said it before, as have many others in our industry: Your team is your landscaping company’s greatest asset. At the successful companies we tour for our GROW! Annual Conference each year, the owners always say their people make their businesses stand out from the crowd.

Having a great team doesn’t happen by accident. It comes from leadership intentionally creating a good company culture, hiring managers making smart decisions about who they add to the team and the entire team working together to build one another up and support the team. To an outsider, it may look like this team has the magic and unattainable “it” factor. But in my experience, we can teach that.

It starts by having a growth mindset as an owner or leader. This means that when something doesn’t go according to plan, you ask yourself, “What did I do or not do that led to this?” You don’t start by placing blame or pointing fingers; you take ownership and work toward a solution.

The next step is teaching your team to have a growth mindset and training them on soft skills that will make them better team members. I’ll be covering this topic in depth at GROW! 2023 in San Antonio, Texas. I’ll dive into the skills we teach our team at Grunder Landscaping Co. to help them be better team members to one another and to take better care of our clients. Three of the soft skills I teach are:

Nurturing relationships. Establishing and nurturing relationships are life skills; they aren’t taught in school. We teach our team to ask questions, take an interest in other people and actively listen during conversations. It’s essential for our team to be able to create and sustain relationships with both their fellow team members and our clients. It makes our company a better place to work.

Handling issues and disagreements. No matter how much we plan and communicate, things will still go wrong. When a problem arises within the team, with a vendor or with a client, we want to equip our team to find a solution civilly. We teach them to look at what and not who is to blame, to take accountability when it’s their mistake and be part of the solution when something goes awry.

Be a person other people want to be around. The world doesn’t revolve around any single person. That’s why self-awareness is a key soft skill for us. We want our team to be friendly, show they care and be aware of how their actions affect the people around them. To teach this trait, we often explain to our team the why behind our processes so they understand how the way they work can affect their team members.

All three of these skills may come naturally to you or others on your team, but they don’t come naturally to everyone. By explicitly teaching our team how to do these things, we’re investing in them as people and as team members. 

We want Grunder Landscaping Co. to be a great place to work. To achieve that goal, we need a team that is great to work with. We get there by hiring the right people who fit our company culture and teaching our team the skills we want them to have. All around, I’ve learned that when you invest in your team, it pays the largest dividends.

GROW! 2023 will take place Feb. 28 to March 2 in San Antonio, Texas. I’ll teach a session that goes more in-depth on soft skills; plus, we have a full agenda of sessions on all the topics your company needs to know about to be successful in 2023.

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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