Your landscaping business isn't just a day job to you. It's an obsession, it’s your legacy, and it's the mark you're making on the world. That's why it can be a frustrating experience to feel like you're not leading your team as successfully as you could be.
How can you lead your landscaping team to success while fostering a productive and positive work environment?
How to be a better service business leader:
Being a good leader is about more than just finding the right balance between a boss and a friend; it’s about empowering and engaging your employees in a way that makes them truly care about the success of the company.
Your company's reputation trickles down from the top. The way your employees treat your customers is a reflection of how you treat your employees. Are you leading an empowered, positive, and resourceful team?
You could be with just a few small changes. Below are 7 of the top changes you can make to be a more effective leader in your landscaping business.
1 – Praise More Often
Increasing the amount of praise you provide is a great place to start to improve dynamic of your team. Have you been noticing a lack of motivation among your team members lately? Do some members of your team seem to be clocking in and clocking out without any sort of spark? You may not be showing that you appreciate and value the work that is being done.
Praise not only helps to improve the dynamic and culture of your business team; it can also be an excellent coaching tool.
To use praise as an effective leadership tool in your landscaping company, it’s important to praise publicly and specifically. For instance, instead of a quick “good job” in passing, take a moment at your next company meeting to call out specific ways some of your employees solved problems, exceeded expectations, or otherwise provided excellent service. Be specific not only in their actions, but also in the business impact. Did some great customer service save an at-risk account? Did a team pull extra hours to meet a tight deadline to receive a raving review and referrals from a client? Let your team know!
Praise not only helps your employees feel more engaged and appreciated, but it also helps to reinforce to the rest of the team the type of performance you want and expect from them.
2 – Improve Your Listening Skills
Being a great leader in your landscaping business takes excellent communication skills. You should be able to communicate well not only with your team members, but also with customers, suppliers, lenders, and other partnerships.
The first step in improving your communication skills is to take a look at how well you listen. How often do you listen in a conversation compared to how much you talk? When you listen, are you listening to respond or to understand? Being more conscious of your listening skills can make a huge difference in how you’re perceived as a leader. It also empowers you with more information and insight to better guide your business decisions.
3 – Adapt Your Communication Style
When you’re speaking to others, do you speak the same way to everyone, or do you make small adjustments based on who you’re talking to? Most landscape business owners will speak to their landscape staff differently than how they speak to clients. However, to be a more effective leader, communication takes even more consideration.
Every employee, client, and business contact has a slightly different communication style. Some people are more friendly and prefer a little bit of small talk or for their emotions to be understood during conversations. Others need more details and information, while still others would prefer you to cut right to the chase.
When you’re able to sense how other people communicate, you can communicate with them more effectively. It allows you to make minor changes to better match their communication patterns. By doing this you’ll find less resistance from team members and clients, and will find your conversations can be much more productive.
4 – Look for Growth Opportunities
Keep an open line of communication with your employees about where they hope this opportunity will take them. While some landscaping businesses see themselves as an entry-level stepping stone for students or workers who have little former work experience or education, a strategic landscape business leader will look for opportunities for growth and help guide high-potential employees to them to elevate the overall performance of their company.
What tasks can you delegate that will help a high-potential employee grow his or her skills to become more valuable to your company in the future? Are these skills in line with their interests, talents, and long-term goals?
Not only will this mindset help decrease turnover, but it will also help increase employee engagement. Equally important, it will raise the skill level of your team to provide higher levels of service, creativity, and expertise to your clients.
5 – Don’t Criticize—Be Constructive
Some leaders avoid correcting negative patterns and behavior because they prefer to avoid confrontation. However, when done effectively, correcting bad behaviors can be a positive experience for the employee and the company.
When you see a behavior you’d like to change, it’s important to discuss the issue with the individual privately. This prevents your employee from jumping immediately to the defense to save face in front of his or her colleagues and helps to create a more problem-solving atmosphere.
Before starting a conversation, make sure you are in a calm, rational headspace. Avoid blame or ridicule. Be objective and specific about how certain actions had business impacts. For instance, instead of “How could you have let your team miss the deadline?!” try “The team was 2 weeks late on delivery. The client was angry and requested a refund that decreased our profits on the project by 20%.” This focus on facts and information instead of blame helps the conversation stay productive and objective.
After you’ve laid down the problem and the business impact, ask questions. Why did the mistake happen? Or why does a certain employee do things a certain way? You may find that the real underlying problem is a lack of training, a lack of systems, or a lack of resources.
By approaching problems objectively instead of emotionally, you can turn a negative experience into a productive one.
6 – Empower Your Team with the Right Resources
The unfortunate truth is that far too many business owners in the landscaping industry are wasting time and money by failing to give their teams professional resources they need to be more productive and effective. A landscape business management software, for instance, can decrease data entry time, increase close rates, and improve productivity in most landscaping businesses.
Many landscape business owners are instead relying on outdated methods and constantly falling into the traps caused by disorganized scheduling, chaotic billing, and too-late contact methods.
In order to do their jobs effectively, your team needs the right resources to do so. While it’s important to be selective about your costs, strategic resources can increase productivity and overall profitability by minimizing wasted time, streamlining more strategic scheduling, and minimizing cross-platform data entry errors.
7 – Use Data to Drive Business Decisions
Another shortcoming of using old-fashioned spreadsheets and word processing documents to run your landscaping business is that it makes reporting difficult or even impossible. A strategic landscape business owner will analyze business trends, profits, margins, and timelines to help drive better business decisions.
This is another area where a better landscape business management software can pay in dividends. With all client, resource, and job information stored in a single platform, reporting is easier and more accurate.
Being a great leader in your landscaping business is about more than being respected and listened to. It’s about making the right strategic decisions for your business while maximizing the effectiveness of your teams.
With a few changes to your leadership style and a few strategic resource adjustments, you can feel more confident as a leader while increasing the productivity of your team.