Team Building: Five Questions to Help Analyze Your Company Culture - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Team Building: Five Questions to Help Analyze Your Company Culture

When it comes to attracting and keeping employees, many landscape business owners say their company culture is the key. However, culture is not something that you can set and then forget. It requires intentional effort, and you should take the time to evaluate your current culture regularly.

Below are some questions to ask while assessing your company culture to identify weak spots or areas to improve.

What Is Your Why?

You know what you do and how you go about doing it, but knowing your why should be inspirational, specific to your organization and help every employee understand how what they do is contributing to your company’s purpose.

Finding your company’s purpose can help keep your staff motivated, make you more attractive to new hires and increase the overall health of your organization. It also helps your business navigate new challenges as you have a north star driving your decisions.

“Now more than ever, people want to work with – and for – companies who share common purposes,” says Pam Dooley, owner of Plants Creative Landscape. “They are eager to join the cause!”

How Strong Is Your Onboarding?

Onboarding sets your new employees up for success and can help them see if they have a future at your organization. If you send new hires out on the first day with little to no training, chances are some won’t return the following day. Failing to outline paths for advancement early on can also cause new team members to see the position just as job, rather than a career.

Photo: LandCare

While onboarding requires an investment of time, it is better to make sure they feel comfortable and properly trained for the tasks you’re asking them to do. Pairing them with a mentor can also help them feel more secure in knowing there is someone who they can direct their questions to and who wants them to succeed.

“As an employer, the onboarding process is your first opportunity to create an engaged employee,” says Jennifer Burnett, VP of organizational development for LandCare. “Creating an onboarding experience that presents your people and culture to the new hire in fun and interesting ways can keep your team members excited and motivated to come to work. Additionally, encouraging supervisors and production managers to form positive relationships with new hires helps them build rapport with their teams. Employees who feel there is someone invested in their success are much more likely to stay and grow with us.”

How Do Your Employees Interact?

While you can have your values written out on paper, your culture will be driven and determined by the people within your company. Pay attention to how your departments and co-workers interact with one another. Do they respect one another’s ideas and opinions? Do they relate on an interpersonal level?

While HR departments help plan events, it takes the whole team to make a workplace great.
Photo: Mullin

If there is a lack of unique perspectives being shared or camaraderie is nonexistent, consider adding more team outings to your company calendar. At Mullin, the company has a budget for company culture-related expenses. They will plan monthly activities to do together with the office and field staff.

“Hosting events builds camaraderie,” says Julie Patronik, marketing and creative director at McHale. “They enable our employees – many of whom will never cross paths – to get to know each other and value different perspectives. This supports the entire team in knowing what our company is about and who we are, as well as fosters collaboration that supports our all-encompassing design-build process.”

What Do Your Employees Say?

As you evaluate your current company culture, don’t just keep at the leadership level. Ask some of your long-time employees why they stay. Conduct pulse surveys regularly to hear from your staff what they appreciate and what they think can be done better.

For instance, you may think you have very competitive benefits but be unaware that your existent parental leave is causing some employees to reconsider their future with the organization or have to put having a family on hold.

You can also pick up on employee attitudes by asking questions like “What is holding our company back?” and “What can each of us do to be more helpful to the team?”  

Why Do Your Employees Leave?

Employees leave for numerous reasons, but if you’re not conducting exit interviews you may be unaware of the times a resignation was entirely preventable. By asking open-ended questions with willing participants, you can identify common themes that may need to be addressed.

“We ask a lot of questions that target the employee/manager relationship, department morale, and overall improvements related to the employee experience,” says Emily McNeil, human resources manager for Piscataqua Landscaping & Tree Service (PLTS). “It’s really an opportunity for the leadership team to get raw, honest feedback. In addition to the standard questions, employees are encouraged to discuss any work-related topic(s) that they may have not felt heard on during their time at PLTS.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.