Building Your Team: Cultivating Career Growth – Strategies Used by Top Businesses - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Building Your Team: Cultivating Career Growth – Strategies Used by Top Businesses

Photo: Salesforce

Investing in professional development not only benefits your employees but it also helps your lawn or landscape company reach greater heights. Often, companies that emphasize professional development for their employees don’t settle on just one method but rather a variety of different tools to support and grow their team members.

“The importance of developing our people is paramount to running great restaurants as well as developing future talent to grow,” says a Chipotle spokesperson. “Our people are at the core of our business, so we believe in providing opportunities to our people and promote from within. If we want to achieve our goal of 7,000 restaurants in North America, we’ll need more general managers, field leaders, and so on.”

Leadership Programs

As your company grows, you will need more leaders to manage different departments, branches or even whole regions of the country. A way to help retain your current staff is to outline how they can move up these ranks by providing a leadership program.

Photo: Chipotle

“We provide transparent career progression showing how Chipotle crew members can advance to a restaurateur, the highest general manager position, in as little as three and a half years, with a total compensation package of approximately $100,000 while leading a multi-million-dollar growing business,” Chipotle’s spokesperson says.

80% of Chipotle’s general managers have been promoted from within, often starting as line-level crew members.

A leadership program can also help your employees who have the desire to lead but need more training to access the skills they need to develop.

Salesforce, a cloud-based CRM software company, created their Great Leader Pathways program to support current and aspiring managers with a personalized learning experience that gives them the tools to lead.

They recently redesigned their leadership development program so that everyone has access to this program and leaders are trained according to where they are in the different stages of leadership. Each stage has its own targeted curriculum on the relevant skills and mindsets needed to be successful at that level.

Salesforce’s six leadership levels are:

  • Growing experts: Employees seeking to grow as experts in their field, rather than becoming a formal people leader.
  • Aspiring people leaders: Employees seeking to develop themselves and their careers through people leadership.
  • Leader of individual contributors: First-line managers responsible for the success and growth of a team.
  • Leader of leaders: Those responsible for the success and growth of multiple teams led by other leaders.
  • Function leaders: Employees responsible for the direction, success, and growth of a specific function or area.
  • Enterprise leaders: Senior executives who are directly responsible for the strategic direction and success of Salesforce’s company as a whole.

After rolling out the new program, around 22,000 Salesforce employees enrolled in the program in 2022. Under-represented minorities and women are also participating at higher rates now with this program, as it did away with their formal nomination process.

Tuition Reimbursement

Another common professional development method is some form of tuition reimbursement. Supporting employees pursuing higher education not only enhances their knowledge but also shows your company’s commitment to their growth.

At Chipotle, employees are eligible to pursue debt-free degrees from accredited universities in partnership with Guild Education after 120 days of employment. When the fast food chain first rolled out this offering, they saw a 46% increase in job applications.

“Chipotle currently covers 100% of tuition costs upfront for nearly 100 degree options at ten learning providers,” Chipotle’s spokesperson says. “Chipotle’s debt-free degree offering is a key component of our Cultivate Education program, which includes an Existing Tuition Reimbursement Program, allowing eligible employees to be reimbursed for tuition up to $5,250 per year in qualifying programs.”

The commitment to pursuing higher education also helps employees commit to a career with Chipotle.

“(The) retention rate is two times higher among employees enrolled in the education assistance program and crew members participating are six times more likely to move into a management role,” Chipotle’s spokesperson says.

Salesforce also offers tuition reimbursement for job-related courses up to $5,250 per year. How much you decide to reimburse or what qualifies for tution assistance is up to your company, but it could be anything from one-off classes and workshops to a master’s degree.

Online Training Platforms

In other cases, maybe traditional schooling is not something that is appealing or feasible for your workforce. Providing access to online curriculum allows your self-motivated employees to access a wealth of knowledge on their schedule.

Canon, Inc., a provider of imaging solutions, offers online and instructor-led classes on topics like emotional intelligence and excelling in a hybrid work environment for their employees. They utilize the platform Cornerstone to offer standardized learning opportunities that is aligned across all their business units and markets.

Photo: Salesforce

They have found more employees take the initiative with the learning platform rather than waiting on the company to decide their future. The platform has also helped Canon develop an internal talent pipeline as they have real-time data on all of their employees’ resumes and career plans.

Salesforce created Trailhead, their free online learning platform, in 2014 where employees could learn new hard and soft skills to help them progress in their careers. Not only do they use Trailhead internally, but it is also available for use by other companies and individuals at no cost.

Mentorship and Coaching

Another way to share knowledge, provide guidance and help your employees navigate their careers is by hosting a mentorship program with more experienced employees.

Photo: Chipotle

Baker Hughes, an energy technology company, launched a mentoring program, Cultivate, to support female career growth. Cultivate is a year-long program that pairs women with senior leadership to build their career plans and ambitions.

“Historically as an industry, we’ve struggled to have women staying in the industry,” Loretta Bersani, director of talent development and training for oilfield equipment with Baker Hughes, tells Hart Energy. “But we’ve had great success in terms of increasing the number of women in our executive leadership team, but it is still a journey so we can never stop.”

You can also connect employees with external professional development coaching platforms. Salesforce partnered with BetterUp, which is a digital coaching platform. They specialize in sales coaching that leaves employees better equipped and capable of measurable improvement.

No matter which methods you choose to implement at your own lawn or landscape company, professional development leads to increased employee engagement and satisfaction and, ultimately, a more productive workforce.

This article was published in the September/October issue of the magazine. To read more stories from The Edge magazine, click here to subscribe to the digital edition.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.