Focus on Teaching Character and Process

By Jeff Harkness

I’m watching a transformation happen in a client’s business. It’s exciting to watch. We started this phenomenon with a simple decision to invest in training our staff and weeding out the low character people on team. It sounds simple, but all too often it is overlooked due to time constraints, bad hiring practices, tight purse strings, or a sheer bull headed owner mindset.

I believe the biggest difference between the Green industry and Corporate America is management talent; more specifically, the dollars and commitment corporations make to developing leaders and creating a culture where people want to come to work. When done right, the results can be immediate, stabilizing your labor force and changing the culture of your company.  While we are working and waiting for immigration reform and a better guest worker visa program, focus on coaching up the staff you have. Get the right people on the bus and invest in them.  Start with this paradigm shift in your thinking.

A. There is too much emphasis teaching goals and results and not enough focus on process. A goal is defined as “The result to which effort is aimed.” Thus, owners and managers are conditioned to focus on results. Keep score. We, as consultants, are guilty of focusing too much on results. Yes, each company has requirements for labor management, profit, and cash flow, but managers and owners can become completely overwhelmed by meeting metrics. This leads to daily stress, anxiety and pressure. Not healthy or sustainable.  The key is to focus on effort, or more importantly, the process to which one achieves results. Are your processes efficient?  Can technology help? What are people focused on and where are they spending time?  Processes that must be improved are:

  • Tracking, routing and qualifying leads and sales opportunities
  • Estimating , purchase orders, and work orders
  • Scheduling and Routing
  • Safety
  • Equipment and Fleet programs
  • Quality control and Communication of issues
  • Job costing and Labor management
  • Individual communication, work habits and focus

B. You need good “character people” on your team to drive the processes described above. How do you rate your current staff? Is it time to upgrade and replace some managers? I like to grade people on the 2 types of character: Performance and Moral. Rate each person on a 1-5 scale:

Performance: Hard working, Competitive, Positive, Focused, Accountable, Resilient, Confident, Energetic, and Disciplined.

Moral: Unselfish, Honest, Respectful, Appreciative, Humble, Loyal, Trustworthy, Encouraging caring and socially aware.

The conclusion here is character drives your processes and processes drive results. Everyone is so focused on results that they forget about the other 2 components. You can have a goal of being one of the best and most profitable companies in your area, but there’s a process to get there and the focus needs to be on that. Take note, managers will fail and you as an owner have to deal with it. Managers need to learn from their failures and after each win or loss make them ask themselves: What did we do well and why? What can we do better and how? It’s a people business out there. Let’s work at coaching them up!