Skip To The Main Content
News & Updates

Charting a path forward

  • Mike Rorie
- Posted: August 18, 2017

Nine out of 10 contractors would probably admit they never thought about workforce development before starting their companies. They likely did not have a complete business model in mind and got their companies as far as they could until implementing some structure and formalities became necessary - sometimes for survival and to help the staff develop, and other times to make it to the next level. Taking the time to identify the path you want to take, who is on the journey with you, and whom you may need to hire to take your company into the future can place you on more solid footing for growth.

Charting your team

Whatever your goals may be, a good exercise to help you determine the health of your business and of your workforce is to evaluate your current organizational chart. Who is on your team? Who reports to whom? What is everyone’s title, and what responsibilities do they manage? What would happen if they left?

Looking beyond today, where do you want to be in five years? This will help you determine the types of additional training, knowledge and skills you’ll need to add to your organization.

By having a clear vision of where you are and where you need to go, you can begin to see what’s in place and going smoothly and what needs improvement.

Who do you want to be?
Is there a company in the marketplace that represents what you’d like to model your company after? This is an excellent way to learn what it’s going to take to succeed.

Let’s say you’re operating a commercial snow business that could offer other services like landscape management or pavement management. Seek out a company in your market that is offering these services to understand who they have on their team and how their companies are organized.

For example, do they have divisions for different service offerings? Does one person managing multiple profit centers, or are there multiple managers for each one?

This due diligence will help you identify a marketplace and allow you to define the type of organizational structure you will need to solicit and service these customers. You should be able to assemble a list of the type of managers, sales people, and operational capability required to move forward. Then recruitment can clearly come into play for you and your existing management team.

Who can help you get there?
A key to selecting people for your company with the proper experience and skills necessary is understanding the culture. Culture refers to the beliefs, behaviors and policies by which the leadership team and employees will be governed.

During the last 15 years of operating my former company, open book management became one of the driving forces in attracting, retaining and educating the right people to help run it. We were looking for highly committed and competitive managers and leaders.

Our staff wanted to be measured so they knew where they stood and how much improvement was necessary to get to the standards we had set. Employees at all levels were held to the same standard.

Measuring critical success factors became a big part of our culture. It guided us in the rewards area as well as policy making. It also made it easier for us to choose long-term, sustainable additions to our team. We could look potential employees in the eye and ask them if our standards, beliefs and how we hold each other accountable was appealing to them.

Take the next step
With all this in mind, identifying educational tracks, training and industry-specific consultants to help develop your people becomes a much simpler task. Whether you want open book management, a highly incentivized pay structure, or other benefits that would reward or motivate team members is determined by who and what your organization stands for.

A defined culture among your company’s current leadership team supports your goals and increases your odds of success when selecting qualified candidates. Asking yourself if a potential candidate fits into the company’s culture becomes the final gut check.

Building a successful company starts with a clear vision of what the company will look like as it matures. Then add people who understand your culture and want to become a part of it, and it will be hard to stop you from getting where you want to go.

Culture solutions
  • Establish an organizational chart of employees and their duties.
  • Assess this against your goals for the future. Do you have the right people to help you realize your vision?
  • When hiring, don’t compromise. Make sure prospects will embrace your vision and established culture.

Mike Rorie has been a participant in the snow and ice industry for nearly four decades. He is now the owner of GroundSystems, as well as the CEO of GIS Dynamics, parent company to Go iLawn and Go iPave. Contact him at

[Login to add acomment]