Developing Empowered Managers - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Developing Empowered Managers

When starting out, it’s natural for lawn care and landscape company owners to try to do everything on their own. However, as most businesses break the million-dollar revenue mark, the new challenge can be having a company that thrives even when the owner isn’t around.

Bill Silverman, owner of Springboard Business Coaching, specializes in coaching the owners of seven-figure contracting businesses. He says for these owners’ future success and sanity, it’s necessary to start running the business through their team.

Bill Silverman

Silverman will be covering how owners can develop their own empowered managers during his session at LANDSCAPES 2021 on Thursday, Oct. 21, 1:00 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET. During his session ‘Developing Empowered Managers’ he will teach attendees how to identify the common pitfalls and challenges that stand in the way of successfully developing your management team, and how to overcome them.

Silverman says most owners who are struggling with having to do everything as the business grows, blame their team. They may claim their managers need too much babysitting or can’t make decisions without them.

“The reason is because they haven’t spent the time to develop their people,” Silverman says. “A lot of people say, ‘Good people are hard to find’ but I have found that good people are who you develop.”

Just like you can’t expect a child to learn how to swim when you toss them in the deep end, if you want your business to be able to run without you, you have to develop your managers until they know how.

Silverman says another issue is most owners have trouble letting go and truly letting their managers take the reins.

“If the owner isn’t willing to spend the time developing their team, or they’re not willing to let go, then you can’t have a team of empowered managers,” Silverman says.

Without an empowered team, owners end up working more hours, are unable to take vacations and ultimately the business won’t be as successful.

“This is a core owner leadership skill that they need to develop in order to have the kind of business they dream of and the life they want,” Silverman says.

Silverman says developing an empowered manager takes time and can be broken down into three phases. Much like teaching someone to ride a bike, teaching managers to be self-sufficient starts with the training wheel phase. During this time owners need to provide a lot of support and structure, clarifying the manager’s role and what do they need to do to be successful.

“People need repetition and coaching and ongoing encouragement,” Silverman says.

Phase two is where the owner is still providing support and gradually is letting go. The training wheels are off but you’re still holding on to the back of the seat as they’re pedaling. However, if you never let go completely, they’re never going to truly learn how to manage effectively.

Silverman says this is where the owner gives them safe risks until they can manage on their own.

“The more trust you build in them, the more willing you are to let go,” Silverman says.

Phase three is the empowering stage, where like teaching a bike rider the rules of the road, you teach your managers what kind of decisions they can and can’t make without you. Provide rules of thumb so they can think for themselves in just about any situation.

“It’s not what you do for your manager, but what you’ve taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful,” Silverman says.

Silverman says where most owners fail is when they get impatient and stop short of providing the support that’s needed. Owners have to have time in their calendar to devote the necessary training. He also advises opting to hire managers and then growing, rather than the opposite.

“If you wait until you grow to hire a manager and start developing them, you always end up being in a situation where you are the bottleneck,” Silverman says. “You don’t have the time to develop them.”

This session is worth 1 CEU credit. You can earn up to 13 CEU credits by attending sessions at LANDSCAPES 2021.

Want more information about developing your managers? Register for LANDSCAPES 2021 and we’ll see you in Louisville!

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the content manager for NALP.