Growing Your Own Managers, Part 1

Part 1: What should your management team look like in 10 years?

To listen to Part 1 of the associated podcast on this subject, please click here!

Writing this series is finally going to allow me to share everything I learned about management over more than three decades consulting, and holding every imaginable executive position at both large and small companies, including in the landscape industry. This series will aim to answer the following questions throughout 2018:

  1. What should your management team look like in 10 years?
  2. Why do most supervisors, managers and executives fail—including owners?
  3. How should you identify future supervisors and managers?
  4. What does painless training and development look like?
  5. How should leaders and managers think since thinking is the core of leadership and management?
  6. What is the right mix of insiders and outsiders on your team?
  7. What are some unconventional sources for hiring in the green industry?

The following story is about creating a self-directing, self-managing organization. The concept sounds radical, but it is achievable. The question is: What does it look like?

The Story

The owner’s thoughts at We Own It Landscaping are about golf. But since it is Thursday, his job is to review the week’s reports from the company’s customer relationship and project management software. Starting with the marketing and sales reports, the first item to evaluate is marketing effectiveness. The company just started a social media campaign for commercial property managers and accumulated 10 high-quality leads in a week. However, it increased the cost of sales.

Next is the sales funnel: The ratio of leads to closed deals improved, time in the sales funnel decreased and the margin per sale was up. Good news for tomorrow’s meeting.

Now the owner turns his attention to operational reports. His 10 percent challenge is bearing fruit. The management team overhauled the scheduling process and windshield time dropped by 5 percent. Two crews could service one more account per day. Irrigation took advantage of the 5 percent efficiency to decrease labor hours. This increased margins by 3 percent from last week.

The owner calls marketing on the social media issue and marketing says it is experimenting with a new approach. It is going to be discussed at the Friday meeting.

The reports are solid and allow the owner to get in his first nine holes of 2018.

The next day, the company has its Friday meeting led by the designated quarterback. She works in sales and was selected to lead the meeting to help other managers reach their numbers. The owner takes his customary chair, and listens as each department manager discusses decisions made this week.

The owner takes notes, but his mind drifts back to a few years ago when these meetings were as painful as a root canal ... Managers passing information that was better handled by email or one-on-one conversations. Now the meetings are all business and the owner can see who has the chops for the company’s expansion. The new landscape center is set to open in the third quarter and needs an executive to run it. At the conclusion of the meeting, the owner only has a few passing comments and the meeting ends as it always ends—on time.

The Moral

This is a true story and possible for every landscaping business. Enacting the following principles allowed the owner to change the dynamics of management:

  1. The owner’s job is to hold employees accountable for earning their checks as opposed to doing the work of others.
  2. A self-directing, self-managing organization requires a real-time measurement system.
  3. Supervisors manage the people doing the work by establishing processes and measuring efficiency.
  4. Managers evaluate supervisors by how well they enforce or improve processes, and the results they achieve.
  5. The owner pays attention to the near future by looking for threats and opportunities to prosper regardless of uncontrollable events.
  6. The owner creates a culture of performance, results and teamwork. The highest honor in the company is to become the Friday quarterback.

Think about how this mindset might be able to change your company.

William Eastman is a senior consultant at GreenMark Consulting Group. The company’s three-pronged approach to coaching appeals to landscape and snow companies of all shapes and sizes. Its offering of business toolkits, virtual coaching, live business boot-camp workshops and deep-dive one-on-one consulting can provide the insights and direction your company needs to thrive.