Turn That Raw Emotion Into Real Action

Emotions are running pretty high out there. The price wars continue—as does the economic uncertainty. Owners are frustrated—as are their employees. Why is it, then, that every other landscape company feels pretty good about their prospects of growing sales this year? One reason is that they've figured out how to channel that frustration and uncertainty into something constructive.

Recognize the role behavior plays. The first step, according to consultant Dennis McIntee of Navix, is recognizing not only that team performance drives results, but that individual behavior drives team performance.

"When working with company owners, I've never had to help resolve a business problem, because most problems in business are personal in nature," McIntee relates. "If you're not happy with the results your team is producing, you have to drill down to the behaviors that are affecting the team's performance."

Be specific. The second step is establishing some specific language around the different behaviors. The more specific the language, the more command you can gain of a given situation.

For instance, rather than saying to an employee, "You have to try harder," you might want to say, "We need you to be more assertive. On Friday I want you to show me 10 instances where you've been more assertive this week." This is very specific language that allows you to build a strategy to ultimately change behavior. "If you can't measure it, you can't change it," McIntee points out.

Assess everybody. Every member of your team should have their behavior assessed in some way. When consulting with different companies, the complaint McIntee hears most often from employees is that they don't get enough feedback. "Assessing behavior is an important form of constructive feedback," McIntee says.

Here's an example:

If an employee does something wrong, don't just holler at them in your office or out in the yard."Sit down with the person in an environment that takes the emotion out of it," McIntee advises. "Explain that you want to know why they did what they did. That way they won't go on the defensive. A great phrase to use is 'help me understand.' Give them the chance to explain their behavior. This presents a great opportunity for constructive coaching."

Be patient. Change doesn't happen overnight. Behavioral assessment tools such as the Kolbe A Index, DiSC and the Athene Quotient can help you identify the types of personalities working in your company. From there you can apply tactics such as those described in this article to begin establishing a culture of trust. When that happens, productivity improves and your goals become much easier to reach.

As an author and trainer, Dennis McIntee's Strategic Transformational Process assists leaders in leveraging their time and resources more effectively through strategic planning and building People Operating Systems. Contact him at dennis@navix.com.