Training for Competence: How To Make Sure New Hires Are Trained Properly - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Training for Competence: How To Make Sure New Hires Are Trained Properly

Photo: LandCare

This information came from a session during the 2022 ELEVATE conference and expo. Don’t miss the 2023 ELEVATE in Dallas on Sept. 10-13.

The average cost of hiring an employee is around $4,000. With this much money or more on the line, it should be a given that you want to do everything in your power to ensure these new hires are trained right, but more often than not, new employees at lawn and landscape companies experience a trial by fire.

You should have onboarding goals in place, such as increasing job satisfaction, increasing performance and inoculating against turnover.

Sean Clifford, senior director of learning and development for Massey Services, Inc., based in Orlando, Florida, says training should start from day one. The lack of attention paid to an employee’s first day is staggering, as it is a wasted opportunity to make a team member feel included and appreciated.

Some of the things to cover on the first day during orientation include touring the facility, meeting other team members, reviewing company policies, and the new hire’s job description.

Clifford says some of your initial training goals should include compliance, expectations, acculturation and connections. New hires need to know the basic legal and policy-related rules and understand their roles and the related expectations. You also need to provide them a sense of organizational norms and create interpersonal relationships so the new team members feel they belong.

When it comes to ensuring a new employee is trained on their job functions and can perform them effectively, you need to establish effective performance objectives. These objectives require a condition, behavior and criteria. Rather than saying, “Employee can treat customer’s property” as an objective, “On a lawn, the employee can treat weeds and gain effective control” is a more effective performance objective.

“On a lawn” is the condition, “the employee can treat weeds” is the behavior, and “gain effective control” is the criteria of the objective.

Clifford acknowledges that most lawn and landscape-related tasks are more complicated than that, so he suggests for each job, identify your goal, determine the necessary skills, and define the terminal objective (what they do) and the enabling objective (what you measure).

For instance, if you want to provide world-class weed control to your customers, you need employees skilled in equipment use, weed identification, herbicide selection, and comprehension of labels. A terminal objective of this goal would be the employee using a backpack sprayer to make an effective weed control application resulting in 50 percent of greater weed elimination.

Enabling objectives for this task include the employee selecting the right nozzle, the proper herbicide, mixing the herbicide per label directions, applying the material two feet before and two feet after the edge of the affected area and overlapping the spray patterns as consecutive passes are made. Clifford says the training quality will show in the end results.

Clifford suggests turning to various training sources for technical knowledge when building out these objectives, including your in-house subject matter experts, manufacturers, distributors, and local and national associations.

For more resources on talent development and training, check out the Association for Talent Development and Big Dog and Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition.

For more content like this, register for next year’s ELEVATE in Dallas, Texas, on Sept. 10-13.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.