Ideas on keeping great people in turf management businesses for life.
If you didn’t get the chance to read my caption on LinkedIn, I spoke about our first ever employee calling time on an outstanding career that spanned over 22 years.
Our low staff turnover is something I’ve been proud to achieve with Sally and the entire GHG team because we’ve certainly had our challenges along the way!
Below I’ve shared a few principles that have kept our turnover low and contributed to a culture that people want to stay a part of for the long haul. Here are a few observations and thoughts I’ve gathered along the way.
Firstly, we aren’t perfect!
Of course, I’m pleased to talk about our retention track record, but I would be lying if I told you that we’ve always had a perfect culture. We’ve certainly made plenty of mistakes in both business in general and how we manage our people.
However, I’d like to think that we’ve been able to listen to the team and take in their feedback when we needed to. No business is perfect, but learning from your mistakes and adjusting your course when you need to is often the difference between the good business cultures and the bad ones.
This is obvious, but I don’t want you to think there’s a perfect formula to this stuff. It’s often been our mistakes where we learnt the most and made a positive change.
We’re a family business, but the ethos of what this means can be embodied within any culture.
GHG is a family run business. We don’t see this as a competitive advantage or anything special. However, it has allowed us to create a culture of authenticity and accountability. When you deal with family, it’s easier to be direct and have the hard conversations when they arise. At the same time, no one likes letting their family down, which often means your commitment to accountability is much deeper.
The beauty of this is that you don’t need to be family to embrace these values within your culture. The key to authentic and direct communication is to make sure the team feels secure in their role and that their path of progression is clear.
When your team feels safe in their position and overall career, they will have the confidence to say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done, but most importantly, have the patience to listen first.
Your staff are hungry for innovation and want to use the latest equipment.
Over the last 22 years, there have been so many fantastic advancements in the equipment available to get our work done. For sure, it’s not cheap to invest in this equipment, but the team has always loved being able to use the best equipment available.
Not only is learning how to use this equipment a new challenge, but it also gives the team a true sense of the professionals they are – using outdated equipment that’s not on par with the competition leads to staff looking at roles elsewhere.
Sally and I have always prioritised our team’s equipment on hand. The flow-on effects have allowed us to work with high-profile clients, which in turn gives us access to some of the best locations Sydney has to offer.
Our team uses the best equipment in some of the best ‘offices’ in Australia, and that’s always a great feeling that flows into the work we do and how satisfied our clients are with the lasting results.
Work/life balance and remuneration.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about remuneration, as after all, this is why we work. At GHG, we’ve always been fortunate enough to provide our team with wages well above the industry average. This has been important in ensuring the quality of our teams’ output and the growth of the overall business.
However, remuneration isn’t the only factor we need to consider when creating engaging roles that people want to stay in for the long haul.
While our work will always be at a fixed location, we look to provide flexibility for our team. Outside of work, we all have commitments, and sometimes these commitments need to come before work.
We always trust our team to meet the critical deadlines within our projects and trust their judgement if they need to shift a few things around with their work schedule.
A certain level of autonomy is essential in making sure everyone in the team takes ownership of their role and output in the overall project. Once we know someone on the team has received adequate training, we often look to step out of the way until we can assist with the next stage in their personal development.
I hope a few of the things I went through here have given you a few ideas to think about for your culture. I’ll be the first to admit that what I’ve said above here isn’t rocket science – I’m sure you already understand the importance of owning your shortcomings as a leader, building a family-like culture, excellent working conditions and pay.
But that’s the point; what I’ve shared here can be done by anyone with the attitude to succeed.
The greater the strength of the horticulture industry, the better our outdoor spaces will be right across the country. Now that’s something worth pursuing, isn’t it?
Geoff Green – Managing Director