Quit Making the Labor Crunch Worse!

Part 2 - You have to understand the job before hiring someone to do it.

Labor Crunch - hardscaping employee

Our first article in this series challenged you on how your company’s reputation in the community affects its ability to recruit. That’s because how you are perceived as a business and employer determines what type of person is interested in working for you. If you didn’t read it, check it out now at greenindustrypros.com/12304551.

This article confronts another important issue: Do you really know what the job requires? That sounds arrogant, but our experience is that most landscape businesses focus just on the position, not on how it fits in the business.

That means we are constantly hiring a set of hands that may or may not contribute to our overall success. Doing the job doesn’t matter if it doesn’t drive results that move the business forward. What we are saying is that performing a set of tasks is meaningless unless it has real impact.

Listen to the lively podcast on this subject!

How you know the job

Processes. First start with processes. All positions are part of a process to produce something to generate revenue or decrease cost. Make sure the position is linked to a process by mapping the core: sales, production, service and finance. Examples include:

  • Process for attracting and closing sales through a work order
  • Process for taking a work order and turning it into an installed design build project
  • Process for servicing a maintenance contract
  • Process for invoicing through making the bank deposit.

The bottom line is that if a position cannot be linked to a process, cut the position because it is costing you money without return.

Performance indicators. Second, are there key performance indicators tied to the job? Does the person understand what standards must be met? Every position has a few measurements that matter, including margin, defects, cash on hand, dissatisfied customers, etc. How can you make a hiring decision without stated standards of performance?

Examples include:

  • Crew leaders measured on on-time, on-budget installation of projects
  • Accounting measured on the time it takes between being able to bill a client and when the invoice is sent
  • Production employees measured on absences that delay a project.

The bottom line is that you must have a clear picture of the desired performance before determining whom to hire.

Skills required. Thirdly, ask yourself if you have a handle on the knowledge, skill and certification demands of the position? If you were able to answer the key performance indicators question above, the next challenge is turning those factors into job advertisements and then screening applicants.

First you must understand that you are making two decisions: eligibility and suitability. Eligibility is taking the performance indicators and knowledge/skill/certification requirements to write ad copy that attracts the right people. The key is attracting people who will move you forward and then reviewing their documentation to sort into two piles: 1) they can do the job, and 2) they can’t.

Eligibility is only half of the equation, however. Just because a candidate can work in landscaping doesn’t mean they should work for you. Suitability addresses the harder question: Do they fit your company? Determining if a job applicant is qualified is easy, but answering the question of fit is much harder. This requires a smart interview process that asks the right questions without playing your hand. That will be the subject of our next article: “Which is harder, figuring out what you want or spotting the BS?”