Focusing on character and process

September 3, 2014 -  By

Photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/cjsmithphotography/7684494172/">Chris Smith/Out of Chicago</a> / <a href="http://foter.com/">Foter</a> / <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)</a>

I’m watching a transformation happen in a client’s business. It’s exciting to see. We started this phenomenon with a simple decision to invest in training our staff and weeding out the people on the team with poor character. It sounds simple, but all too often it’s overlooked due to time constraints, bad hiring practices, tight purse strings or a sheer bull-headed owner mindset.

The biggest difference between the Green Industry and corporate America is management talent; more specifically, the dollars and commitment corporations make to develop leaders and create a culture where people want to come to work.

When done right, the results can be immediate, stabilizing your labor force and changing the culture of your company. While you’re working and waiting for immigration reform and a better guest worker visa program, focus on coaching up the staff you have. Get the right people on the bus and invest in them. Start with this paradigm shift in your thinking:

A. There’s too much emphasis on teaching goals and results and not enough focus on process. A goal is defined as “the result to which effort is aimed.” Thus, owners and managers are conditioned to focus on results. Keep score. We, as consultants, are guilty of focusing too much on results.

Yes, each company has requirements for labor management, profit and cash flow, but managers and owners can become completely overwhelmed by meeting metrics. This leads to daily stress, anxiety and pressure that are neither healthy nor sustainable. The key is to focus on effort or, more importantly, the process to which one achieves results.

Are your processes efficient? Can technology help? What are people focused on, and where are they spending time? Processes that must be improved are:
› Tracking, routing and qualifying leads and sales opportunities;
› Estimating, purchase orders and work orders;
› Scheduling and routing;
› Safety;
› Equipment and fleet programs;
› Quality control and communication about issues;
› Job costing and labor management; and
› Individual communication, work habits and focus.

B. You need people with good character on your team to drive the processes described above. How do you rate your current staff? Is it time to upgrade and replace some managers? I like to grade people on two types of character: performance and moral. Rate each person on a 1-5 scale.

Performance: Hard working, competitive, positive, focused, accountable, resilient, confident, energetic and disciplined.

Moral: Unselfish, honest, respectful, appreciative, humble, loyal, trustworthy, encouraging, caring and socially aware.

The conclusion here is character drives your processes, and processes drive results. Everyone is so focused on results that they forget about character and processes. You can strive to be among the best and most profitable companies in your area, but there’s a process to get there; you must focus on that.

Take note. Managers will fail. You, as an owner, will have to deal with it. They need to learn from their failures. After each win or loss make them ask themselves: What did we do well and why? What can we do better and how? It’s a people business out there. Work on coaching yours well.

 

Image: Chris Smith/ Out of Chicago

Jeff Harkness

About the Author:

Harkness is a landscape management consultant with 3PG Consulting. Contact him at jeff@3PGConsulting.com.

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