Switching companies—or even just positions within the same company—always brings a new set of challenges. For Bill Horn, East Branch Manager for Gachina Landscape Management in Menlo Park, California, 30-plus years with the same company had him used to a certain way of doing business.
Horn brought his ideas to Gachina and had to find ways to merge the best of what he learned and the best of Gachina’s strategies into one cohesive system.
Horn says oftentimes it takes someone from the outside to be able to see ways to improve. Starting somewhere new also taught him to be open to new ideas and different ways of doing things.
Branch Manager Tip #1: Let People Own It
One of the biggest concerns Horn saw when he stepped into a branch manager role was a lack of accountability. Horn says there was a lot of finger pointing and blame thrown around but not a lot of people stepping up and taking responsibility for change.
“I stepped back and let my account managers run our meetings,” Horn says.
“I’ve been unbelievably impressed by the way dialogues were started and issues were cracked that I was having difficulty opening up.”
But this wasn’t an easy fix and it’s one that is still evolving today. Horn learned that handing off responsibilities is a big key to imposing accountability.
Along those same lines, Horn says he’s making a purposeful effort to “let people own their commitments, rather than rescuing them when they don’t.”
“If you want people to be accountable, you have to give them the chance to be,” Horn says. “We are going to talk about it one time, and then I’m going to let them own it. Sometimes it’s really hard to step back, but I’ve found that’s when real change starts to happen.”
Branch Manager Lesson Learned #2: Make Safety Changes
In his new role, Horn also encountered a problem with safety violations. One specific issue was that crews were not wearing gloves. Digging into the issue, Horn learned there was more to it.
“It was really a matter of the team members saying the gloves they had were not good enough,” Horn says. “In an effort to be cost-conscious I had originally turned down leather gloves, but when I realized this was contributing to the problem, I had a change of heart.”
Horn says when he ordered the more expensive but higher quality gloves, crews started wearing them.
“Again, it circled back to listening to other peoples’ ideas and accepting their input,” Horn says. “I’m getting better about making decisions after I’ve had other people weigh in. That’s been a valuable lesson.”
Branch Manager Lesson Learned #3: Be Open to Input
Whether you have been in the industry three years or 30 years, listening to people and receiving their input, as well as giving your people ownership, is important to being an effective branch manager, sums up Horn.
“Once that occurs,” Horn says, “the decisions any manager makes shows that they trust and value the input received.”