Web Extra: How Taylor Irrigation evaluates employees like Marines

December 1, 2015 -  By

The November 2015 issue of LM outlined key performance indicators from a few landscape companies, including Taylor Irrigation Service, based in Houston. Here’s the company’s system for reviewing employees, based on President & CEO John Taylor’s experience in the Marine Corps.

Any veteran of the Marine Corps will recognize the Pro & Con method of evaluation (short for “proficiency” and “conduct”). It has been modified a bit to meet our civilian needs, but the core of it is there.


We use these scores to track employee performance twice a year. They factor into raises, promotions and career paths. This system is also used to proactively help our employees become better at their jobs and to figure out who is progressing and who is not.

How to assign a grade

There are two sheets within the Pro & Con – Guidelines document that explain how to assign grades. It’s very easy and anyone could use it effectively after reading the directions just once. Our company has a folder for each employee with these two sheets printed on the inside of the folder so that the grading system is actually a part of the folder. On the right side of the folder, we have the Pro & Con – Review Sheet, which we run through a two-hole punch and secure with a folder brad.

The review sheet

Enter the employee name, date of hire and current date at the top of the review sheet. The first person to get the folder and to input data on the review sheet is the crew foreman. He or she fills out the top block and then passes it along to the next supervisor until it works its way through the field manager, division manager and ultimately the operations manager. The initial grade that comes from the foreman will be used as a base grade and it will be adjusted by each manager until a final grade is assigned. At that point, a performance review meeting with the employee occurs to cover the grade and review.

The comments section allows each manager to share his or her feelings about the employee. The assets and liabilities sections respectively allow our staff to identify the employees strengths and weaknesses. The “next step” section is where we advise the employee what he or she can do to move forward.

Our goal is to make all employees the best employee we can make them and to ensure that they always see a path forward and know exactly how to proceed on that path.

This is posted in LM Web Extras, November 2015

About the Author:

Taylor, a former Marine, is president and CEO of Taylor Irrigation Service, based in Houston.

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