By Jon Crandall
Team builders: Surprise treats, industry recognition, training and bringing families of new team members into the fold are just a few ways JC Grounds creates a positive culture.
Creating and maintaining a great team takes a massive investment of time, energy, persistence and cash. However, competitive pay and a great benefits package only go so far. I have seen businesses, including my own, where employees are paid very well and enjoy good benefits only to still be disengaged. Benefits and competitive pay are important and will likely attract a better employee. It’s what happens after the employee gets on the bus that many don’t do well and what I believe is very important.
When I was in grade school, my mother told me: “Find a job you love because you will be working 70% of most of your days.” I fortunately found this in my career and have been careful to guard it by only inviting in employees, clients and vendors that will continue to improve that happiness. Once we get the right fit, it takes a continued effort to keep the team engaged and growing.
The triple win
This is when you can create a win for the company, the employees and the clients all at the same time. When everyone is winning together you can really create something special. An example of a system that doesn’t work is where employees are paid a salary through the winter. They are paid the same each week, knowing some days they won’t work and during storms will work longer hours. Since the employee was not paid more when it snowed, they were generally hoping it didn’t snow. Who would want to work long hours, potentially on a holiday, if you had no additional incentive?
We decided on a pay method in favor of the employee and came up with time and a half after 10 hours of snow-related work. We guaranteed second-year full-time employees a minimum of 32 hours every week; rarely do they see a week under 40 hours. Our field staff looks forward to winter because they know they will dramatically increase take-home pay. Our clients win because our staff is positively engaged, excited for the storms to hit and quick to respond to the calls. The company wins because our clients receive great service and are ecstatic with the follow-through.
Onboarding also became a focus for us. I remember hearing Jack Daly speak about how most companies throw a party when an employee is leaving but do hardly anything on the first day or week of bringing a new employee on board.
A process we believe in
Here is how our process now looks with new management team members. First, we recognize the families and send a plant or flower arrangement to the significant other within a day or two before they start. We add a note that says, “We are excited to welcome ___ to our team and very much appreciate your family’s support in this mutually exciting endeavor.” We typically have business cards ready to go, computer and workstation clean and prepared for them, and lunch at a restaurant with one or two members of the management team. We also start new hires on Tuesday when it is less likely to be hectic. This is a far better experience than throwing someone into a new situation unorganized and, worse, using business cards with the name scratched out and the new name added.
Keeping the team in the loop
. At JC Grounds, we just hosted our first all-company meeting. We had a catered lunch and a PowerPoint presentation showing the direction of the company over the next year and several years after that. This gets everyone on the same page as to what the company goals are as well as potential job openings. At the wrap-up we ask everyone to fill out a card, recognizing someone else in the company.
. Feeding the troops has always paid off strongly. Breakfast is a great opportunity for everyone to get to know each other on a personal level. It is a time of the day that you are not usually cutting into personal or family time. We hold a weekly Wednesday safety meeting and provide hot breakfast sandwiches for the entire crew. Every Thursday the entire office staff goes to breakfast at a local restaurant.
Understand your team
. I highly recommend the book by Mathew Kelly, “The Dream Manager.” Kelly talks about how to discover your employee’s dreams and aspirations and how to help bring them to life. If you employ some simple suggestions in this book, you will be amazed at how it will affect the company and your team. We have secretly made a few wishes come true to date and it personally affected me in a way I would have never suspected. Return on investment personally and on a business level was not an intention but absolutely a result.
. We engage our employees throughout the year. We host an annual harbor cruise where our entire snow team is invited along with a guest. This gets our seasonal employees together halfway through the off-season to reminisce over the past winter and touch base with our full-time team in a relaxed environment.
Like most companies, we have our annual holiday party. We also have field days, where we take the office staff out in the field to work alongside the crew to learn what a typical day is like for them. This offers a huge amount of insight on what is working and what is not when it comes to how the office and field communicate. As an added bonus, both sides get to know each other better.
We get involved with community service and charity events, and have done several related to an employee’s passion. These events have provided our employees the ability to use some of our company resources to make a difference in a charity that matters to them. The company benefits by bonding as a group for the better good.
Bonding Opportunities: Picnics, special events and all-company meetings help build friendships and keep everyone on the team in the loop as to where the company is headed and how they can play a role in its success.
Employee growth and learning
. The times the company and I as a leader have grown the most is when we have been out of our comfort zone.
One of our company core values is continued growth and learning. A team member may need a push from time to time to go beyond their comfort zone.
We have invested in college tuition, Landmark personal development forums, SIMA educational opportunities, mentors, consultants, KOLBE and DISC profiling, and more to better our team. We have urged many to take the leap into a new elevated role while mentoring the person assuming their previous role. This continued learning and elevating has been one of the strongest team-building opportunities and highest returns on investment to the company and employees that we have yet to offer.
Putting it all together
At JC Grounds we have begun using EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) developed by Gino Wickman, who describes the system in his book, “Traction.” Our growing team using the EOS system is what will bring us to the next level. I am excited to share the results of our investments in people and infrastructure over the next few years. Hopefully, I will be able to share a few challenges (also known as learning experiences) that you can avoid in your own path to success.
Recently at a business coaching seminar, I heard Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach say, “As entrepreneurs we create the game we are playing. Why not create one you can be successful at? No one wants to keep playing a game they continue to lose at.” Keep that in mind when making decisions as to who to hire and who to work for, as well as investing in your company culture. Enjoy the path as you travel along. You may as well since you will be on it 70% of the time you are awake each day.
Jonathan Crandall is chief visionary for JC Grounds Management. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos courtesy of JC Grounds.