At NALP’s Leaders Forum event in January 2022, industry CEOs and experts shared their strategies to create impactful and resilient cultures. Panelists included Phil Allen, Ph.D., professor of landscape management, Brigham Young University; Mike Bogan, CEO, LandCare; Pam Dooley, owner, Plants Creative Landscape; Paul Fraynd, CEO, Sun Valley Landscaping; and Doug McDuff, president & co-owner, Landscape America.
“Young people don’t want to work for you; they want to work with you,” said Phil Allen, Ph.D., during NALP’s Leaders Forum industry panel on company culture. In addition, strong company cultures have an atmosphere of inclusiveness where employees feel comfortable speaking up and aren’t afraid to make mistakes.
“Our job is to educate and inspire people – to make them imagine new possibilities and feel seen and understood,” said Sean Martin, Associate Professor of Management at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and Leaders Forum presenter. “That’s what drives results.”
How do you do create that atmosphere? You start by breaking down status barriers between managers and employees, talking to employees where they are – in the field or in the office, listening, and being open.
For Doug McDuff, president and co-owner of Landscape America, building trust with employees includes open-book management. Their team reviews gross profits and forecasts every week, which helps create an ownership mindset. And that’s not just for managers. Each week they invite two different field team members to the meetings so everyone in the company buys into the goals and it also helps team members build their own financial literacy skills.
For companies like LandCare, cultural alignment is an integral part of hiring and onboarding. New employees need to understand and share the same core values, which are especially important at the leadership level.
Focusing on an employee’s well-being and mental health are often overlooked for other aspects of company culture. However, especially now, when the pressures of the pandemic have affected people’s mental health and added levels of stress that didn’t exist before, it is vital to proactively address it because your employee’s personal struggles will affect the entire workplace culture.
Mike Bogan, CEO of LandCare, and Pam Dooley, owner of Plants Creative Landscape, both promote Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to their employees as a way for them to get confidential help from therapists who are available through company health plans.
Paul Fraynd, CEO, of Sun Valley Landscaping, has found success with Navigator programs from the Chamber of Commerce, which offer counselors to help employees navigate all sorts of personal and financial challenges.
Since so much of our life plays out at work, and employers are so invested in the health and happiness of their team members, should we be thinking about work differently? Yes, says Bogan. He thinks the concept of “work/life balance” is outdated and forces you to feel that you can’t “live” at work. When in fact, we are intellectually challenged, we grow, pursue things we are interested in, make great friendships, and have fun at work. So maybe changing your mindset and thinking about works as life is key to a more impactful and resilient workplace.
For insightful leadership education and networking with the best landscape and lawn care CEOs and executives, attend the next Leaders Forum, Feb. 1-4, 2023, at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, in Maui, Hawaii.