Reinforce Your Op

Your snow and ice management operation may benefit from more employees. However, learn how to initiate growth by developing the assets already on hand – your existing labor force.

© Vitalii Vodolazskyi | adobe stock


Organizations fail to thrive when their people lack the skills and knowledge to perform at the highest level. As snow and ice management professionals, we understand the immense impact that even a few degrees in temperature can have in radically changing the outcome of a winter event. By adjusting our approach, we can deliver success because we understand the environment. And while powerless to influence the climate in which we work, we can craft an ideal environment for employee success.



But what does a growth environment look like for our employees? Could our team experience more success if the company’s culture were more conducive to employee development?

Only about half of all employees globally strongly agree that they have had opportunities to gain experience and grow in the past year, according to research conducted by Gallup. Yet the ones who do work harder and more efficiently produce 9% higher customer loyalty and 10% higher profit than undeveloped employees. What is more, employees provided with the right growth opportunities are twice as likely to spend their career with their company.

For business leaders, the return on investment is clear. Paying for employee development will reap massive returns on efficiency, profit, and retention.

The first step is establishing a budget for each employee’s growth. One of the best ways to do this is at the organizational level. For example, frontline employees may be eligible for one hour per week of paid on-the-job training. In addition to paid training, provide crew leaders with access to an online educational platform – such as or the Industry Standards-based training offered by the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA). Enroll mid-level managers in a snow and ice industry or related professional conference annually. And pair senior-level leaders with an executive coach or academic program budgeted.

Whatever budget is set, there are three keys to selecting the right employee development opportunities for each person.

Individualize Goals. Target employee development to each individual employee. This means continuing education should be relevant to their role at the company with tangible outcomes in their current and future responsibilities. It also means leaders must consider each worker’s motivations, strengths, and blind spots Remember, nothing is more exhausting than training that feels remedial. So, allow each person to help select their developmental plan, and this will create the greatest buy-in from everyone. While we must commit to topics like safety training as part of solid snow and ice management practices, it is critical to never confuse mandatory training items as employee growth. Setting true development goals through conversations that are collaborative and encouraging, rather than directed from the top and obligatory.

Establish Purpose. Employee development must be intentional. The reason most people never grow is because their supervisors fail to discuss it or encourage their progress. When time is not set aside purposefully, development simply does not happen. A stagnant organization is one that has not expressly prioritized employee growth. Part of intentional developmental opportunities is having goal setting and accountability. Just like in snow and ice management where we would engage a storm-response plan and then expect success without frequent check-ins to adjust for changing conditions, encourage your employees about their progress and development through periodic status check-ins.

Maintain Consistency. Finally, employee growth must be ongoing from onboarding through promotion. Growth and development are long and slow processes, and consistency breeds the best outcome. Teams which schedule intentional time for growth – even during busy seasons – find the greatest return. Those who only invest in themselves when convenient are often frustrated by the lack of results. When management stops developing employees, they tend to look elsewhere for work. In fact, 93% of the time an employee changed his or her professional role, they left their organization to do so. It is clear growth will lead to retention if it is continuous.

Resources. If your snow and ice management company is not sure where to look for growth and development opportunities, here are two great resources to consider.

First, contact an outside coaching firm that offers green-industry specific training. For example, my firm, offers topics from hiring to management to sales to finance to operations and more available 24/7 in short, easy to digest videos of about 15 minutes each. It is an affordable, convenient, and powerful way to train your whole team at any level.

Another effective way to cultivate employee growth is to attend conferences and educational opportunities provided by industry organizations, such as the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA). Often, getting the team away to an amazing location to learn, network, and brainstorm is without a doubt one of the best growth environments you can create.

No matter how you choose to develop your team, the investment in consistent, intentional, and individualized employee development – at all levels – will return noticeable improvements to your overall snow and ice management operation and may be a key to solidifying your labor issues.

A frequent Snow Magazine contributor, Neal Glatt is a snow industry veteran as well as a John Maxwell Certified coach, speaker, and trainer.

August 2022
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