Listen Twice as Much as You Speak

When I speak with our industry’s business owners, I often hear a familiar complaint. Their teams, they grumble, just won’t do what they’re supposed to do. Their crews, they grouse, just don’t seem to care. How can they get their teams to change? 

My answer? Listen.

Listen to yourself and how you talk about the problem. The problem isn’t necessarily that your team won’t do what you want them to do, or that they don’t care. When you put it that way, you make it all about them and their failing, while letting yourself off the hook. Most—not all, but most—people care about the work they do and want to do it well.

The real problem is you aren’t getting the results you want from your teams. The real question is, why and how do you get them?

Listen to your team and how they talk about the problem. Have a frank discussion with them about how you’re not seeing the results you want from them and ask why they think that is. Do they understand what you’re trying to accomplish and their role in it?

Ask them about the challenges and obstacles they face. Do they have the tools and training they need? Do the systems you have in place work, or do they need to be updated or improved? Maybe there’s a conflict between team members you don’t know about. Maybe they don’t feel challenged and actually want more responsibility, not less. Maybe they don’t feel valued or respected. Maybe they’re dealing with a personal problem and need your understanding and support right now. Maybe they’ve realized the green industry’s not for them.

The point is you were convinced of their aptitude and attitude when you hired them; if you’re not getting the results you need from them now, find out why. That’s the first step.

You do that by listening. There’s a reason you’ve got two ears and just one mouth.