Growing a business can be a tricky balancing act. Small companies, especially, must multi-task efforts toward profitability and build a team that can support additional revenue. There are daily operations to manage—accounts to service—while planning to secure the infrastructure and human resources to support growth. Because owners of smaller operations wear many hats, decisions relating to staffing often happen last-minute and in the moment, as in, “I need to fill this position, now.” Or, an owner relies on gut instinct when hiring rather than working through a process to ensure a cultural and organizational fit.
For all these reasons, planning for future growth is critical. Recruiting should be an ongoing activity, not a last-minute effort to fill empty seats.
Many owners shy away from hiring to fill positions that will expand their organizational structure for a few reasons.
- Perceived cost.
- Inadequate hiring pool.
- Concern about keeping a new team member “busy.”
Instead, they should adopt a build from within strategy. Here is how that works.
Build a Team: Build from Within—A Recruiting Mindset
“What’s next?” This is a question you should continuously ask as you review your organizational chart, your growth goals and your existing workforce. Engage team members in discussions about their career paths at your company. Show them opportunities to move up and what they must accomplish to get there. Identify your rising stars and find places for them in higher ranks so you can make room to recruit, train and develop fresh talent.
For example, identify hard-working crewmembers who show the potential for promotion. Rather than waiting until you need a new crew leader, team this member up with a veteran crew leader and start training that field employee early. Give the crewmember more responsibility and see how he or she handles the extra duties. Develop people from within so you don’t have to search the challenging labor market for people who can fill open positions.
Build a Team: Start Early—Develop Future Talent
Tap into high school and college horticultural programs and offer internships so young people can learn the industry and get to know your company. Participate in high school and college career fairs. Educate students about green industry careers—be a resource. Many companies that recruit college graduates from landscape design, landscape management and other horticultural programs will tell you these new-hires tend to move up quickly because they are motivated to succeed in the field. After all, they already invested in a formal education and are probably ready to put that learning to work in the field. By developing relationships with teachers and professors, you can pave important recruiting inroads.
Build a Team: Adopt a Training Culture
Your best people might come from an entirely different industry, but they have the characteristics and drive that make them ideal employees: a passion for the outdoors, a desire to work hard and serve customers, and high standards for their work. They can bring the right attitude—you can train to build their aptitude.
Create a formal training program by considering a Landscape Maintenance Training Module, which creates career levels and outlines skills to develop in order to move up in the ranks. These skill levels can also be pay increase milestones, when employees are eligible for pay raises. With a training program in place, employees will understand what is required of them to advance their careers and increase their wage.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was an excerpt from one of NALP’s member resources, providing by well-known industry consultant Bruce Wilson. Want to learn more about bettering your business? Become a member to enjoy these resources and more.
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