How To Turn Employees Into Heroes

Provide opportunities for employees to step up, recognize their efforts, and help lead the way.

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Heroes are no longer easy to identify in the sports world. For example, I'm left shaking my head as I watch the NBA implode. Similarly, we can no longer look to Hollywood unless our definition of a hero is someone who is fooling the audience in a reality show, trying to dance, creating cartoons that kids can no longer watch, or trying to recover from a habit that seems to go along with their success. Then there's the circus sideshow of world of politics being reported by slick entertainers committed to sensationalism using any means possible to get viewers—instead of presenting the truth.

If you consider the above examples, it seems much more inspiring to look for our heroes in the people we work with every day.

As the JP Horizons team travels the country, we see great examples of heroes in landscape companies, suppliers and associations. These heroes are getting involved in their communities. They are creating awareness of the importance of helping people to "come alive outside," teaching how to grow our own vegetables, or helping children start a butterfly garden, for example.

All across the country there are individuals and companies continuing to promote sustainability and green initiatives that help educate their clients and inspire them to do the same. Through necessity over the past couple of years—in an effort to work smarter and innovate—contractors and manufacturers are developing and perfecting new products, methods and technologies that will continue to help the industry grow and prosper in the years ahead.

Although we may not readily recognize them, there are many suppliers to the industry whose heroic efforts to participate in educational events and trade shows help keep the associations and their members engaged in learning and growing.

We can be inspired by the heroes who came to this country not yet able to speak English. Through desire and commitment, they have learned the language, obtained a driver’s license, became U.S. citizens, became active in the industry, and even started businesses of their own.

The greatest thing about these examples of heroism is that they do not happen because a person wants to be a hero. It is their passion and commitment to the industry and their companies that moves them to act.

Ideas to help foster heroism in your company

Lower your expectations. Do not overlook the small accomplishment. When combined with many other small accomplishments, it can have a significant impact on the company.

Provide opportunities to be a hero. Challenge someone and then give them the freedom to rise up to the challenge. It is likely that the individuals in your company are looking for challenges—and are capable of more responsibility.

Recognize simple acts of heroics. Many times a simple thank you in a meeting, a high five in the yard or office, or a note that lets your hero know that you appreciate their efforts can mean more than a parade or front-page news. We all just want to be appreciated.

Lead the way. This may cause the biggest challenge, but gives the biggest reward. It doesn't matter if we are an owner or a new employee. Doing something that makes a difference for somebody else brings about the greatest reward of all: You feel great about yourself.