Growing the Next Generation

What is the best way to manage and train green industry employees? Is there such a thing as best practices?

CarrieM Outside 5942db5e69cbb

What is the best way to manage and train green industry employees? As a result of the labor shortage facing the landscaping industry and the lack of experience many new hires may present this season while businesses try to multiply their numbers, it’s a question I ask almost every landscape contractor I speak with. The range of fantastic responses I’ve received runs the gamut.

Fortunately (in my opinion at least), there’s no correct black-and-white or one-size-fits-all answer that absolutely satisfies this question. Maybe the management style that works best for you doesn’t work for the landscaping company next door. For example, is a my-way-or-the-highway training technique better than something a little subtler? If there were such a thing as best practices when it comes to landscaping employee management and training, what would they be and would they apply to only some companies and new hires, or all of them?

All of these questions and many more plagued me as I recently hired an intern to help out with the daily grind here at Green Industry Pros. Admittedly, hiring an editorial intern at a publishing company differs a bit from hiring a landscaper, but there are similarities.

After reviewing several resumes and writing samples, I ended up interviewing a couple of very capable and competent college students. What won me over with the intern I eventually hired was her personality, and familiarity with the industry and industry tools, such as the type of software we use, which is probably the most time-intensive part of training any new editorial employee.

As I work to train the intern, I’m learning just as much about my training and management style as I am about her learning style. I’m trying out more of a mentorship approach to education than a micromanagement angle. (Of course, this is all my own opinion; she may tell you a different story!)

When she first started, I had her observe the way I performed certain tasks, then encouraged her with the freedom to come up with her own standard operating procedures as long as they fell in line with my expectations of the end result. After the introductory observation phase, I threw her right in, making myself available for as many questions as she could muster. I told her that I wanted her to be comfortable enough asking me questions that a path was worn between my office and hers.

I couldn’t be happier with the results. We’re both learning a lot and getting even more accomplished, each with our own specialties put to use. Had I hired someone with a different personality or less skill, however, I might’ve tried a different approach—more along the lines of a structured training or the micromanagement I mentioned earlier ...

What’s your employee management and training style? Do you vary it from hire to hire or do you find that it can successfully stay the same from person to person? What are your best practices and why do you think they work for you? Drop me a line to let me know what your approach is and why.