The Key is Culture

Establish a foundation that assures that field workers, managers and new hires of all kinds feel like they are on the same team.


When addressing the people dilemma, we need to consider your organization's foundation – your culture. It all starts with a company's culture. And while all companies have a culture, the question comes down to whether yours is a good culture or a bad one. Are you raptors or puppy dogs or something in between.

Now, for all of you who think this is fluffy, woolly, soft stuff author and speaker Leandro Herrero teaches “The 8 hard arguments on culture.”

  • Culture is the difference between 30 people making a decision in 30 days, or three people making the same decision in three days.
  • Culture is the difference between taking accountability, or passing the monkey down the hierarchy
  • Culture is the difference between waiting to be told, or taking the initiative.
  • Culture is the difference between bringing things out in the open, or criticizing everybody in the toilets after the meeting has ended.
  • Culture is the difference between implementing decisions, and deferring them, or waiting and hoping that those decisions may be changed.
  • Culture is the difference between loosing 20 percent of recruits after a recent recruitment event, or having people knocking at the door wanting to join.
  • Culture is the difference between recycling orphan ideas, or making things happen.
  • Culture is the difference between making things happen first and fixing the broken system afterwards, or paralyzing all to fix the system first so things can happen after.

Every company has the makings of a culture. However, it’s up to YOU the company’s leader(s) to identify and shape the development of that culture so it ultimately aids in the business’s growth and development. This is a how-to guide for getting your culture on the right track.

First you need to start with a Culture Check-Up. This is done by surveying your team on the following:

  • What do they think?
  • What is working?
  • What is NOT working?
  • Where are the pain points?

To ensure everyone in our organization is clear about the road ahead and what’s expected of them along the way, it’s key that everyone, including the leaders, are able to answer the following six questions:

  • What am I supposed to be doing?
  • What are the expected goals or standards?
  • How does my performance match up to these goals?
  • What do I need to learn or do to improve?
  • What can I expect if I am successful?
  • What happens if/when I fall short?

Once you and your people have a clear sense of what’s expected – evidenced by an ability to answer the six questions – you’ll be well on your way to success and accomplishing your goals.

After the survey meet with them in a healthy dialogue with a spirit of inquiry. Review the findings together as a team. Then you can start to build the foundation of a deliberate culture.

There are three key components to proactively building a conducive culture that will help your company keep and retain the people who are the keys to your success and assist you in gaining a competitive edge.

You need a vision, mission and values statement. Everyone needs context for work, this is the long-term objective for the company. Given that objective, employees need to understand the value they provide to customers, when it needs to happen, along with the principles that control how tasks need to be performed.

Successful companies that have a solid company culture ... built that culture deliberately, proactively, and on purpose. They focused on three key areas:

Vision – Provide a compelling picture of the future that will draw people to your company through an emotional connection.

  • What do you want your company to look like in 5 years? In 25 years?
  • Where are you headed? Mission – Outline your offer, which is the products and services plus the experience of doing business with you. This is the rational connection between the offer and the benefits customers receive.
  • Why do your people come to work every day?
  • How will your team achieve your vision? Core Values – convey to customers, suppliers, investors and especially employees that how they perform matters; this defines the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
  • What values do you live by?
  • What are the rules of the road?

How intentional is your culture? What specific systems do you have in place to assure that field workers, managers and new hires of all kinds feel like they are on the same team? To do this you need to build the foundation of your culture through vision, mission and core values. Have these as part of recruiting, on-boarding, reviews, leadership training, and your career path process.

When you have this in place and you and your team live by these standards, then you can build a people plan designed to grow and keep the keepers and lose the losers and destroyers.

As Head Harvester, with the Harvest Landscape Consulting Group, Fred Haskett coaches and consults with owners of small, medium, and large lawn care, tree care and landscape companies. He is also a frequent Snow Magazine contributor.

August 2019
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