As the new season approaches, it gives you an opportunity to build a new team and/or refresh a team you already have. The first step in building a team is to identify the jobs you have available. Then, you need to define exactly what the positions require. After all, how can you build a team if you don't know which positions to fill and what it takes, in terms of employees' attitude and abilities, to fill them?
Drilling down the specific requirements for each position you want to fill will allow you to develop brief job descriptions for each of them, perhaps something as straightforward as short lists of bullet points. Once you define the specific requirements for each position, you can determine the "must have" skills each candidate must possess to be able do to function effectively in that position.
It's not simply a matter of hiring who you like (Don't ignore that completely because each candidate has to fit into your organization's culture), it's whether they'll be able to perform well in the job you're asking them to do. Whether you are interviewing your existing team or new candidates, be sure the skills match the job before you go too deep into the thought, "Do I like this person and will they represent me and my company well?" What you really should try to do is to put the right person in the right seat.
Look at your current team and decide whether those players deserve to be on the team. If they do, are they in the right position, or are they a candidate to move into a new position, perhaps even a higher position?
One luxury you have in looking at an existing team is that you can evaluate how they performed last year. Base it on something measurable. At the entry level, it can be as simple as asking yourself, "Did they show up every day on time, and turn in a good day's work?" If they didn't, it holds your team back.
Or, if you are evaluating a manager, did they meet their budget? Or if they are in sales or are a business developer, did they meet their goals?
At some point, you have to look past excuses for bad performance or they'll hold you back. More importantly, they'll hold back other members of your team. Everyone likes to be on a winning team. If you're growing, it's considered to be a winning team. Adjust positions, roles and responsibilities, and at the same time, see what skills you might be missing.
Now comes the training/orientation. It starts prior to the first day with how you communicate with that new person and the expectations you set. Where we sometimes fail in our industry is we put somebody to work, and we rationalize skipping an orientation by saying, "We will train them on the job." Take a step back. Is that really fair to them, or should you have some sort of an orientation period?
The first day the new employee is riding with the crew leader or manager, in addition to the job responsibilities, it may start with the basics. When do we stop for breaks? Do we stop for lunch or should I bring one? When is the day over? Where is it appropriate to use the restroom? Is every day the same day? How do I fill out my time card? When do I get paid?
Start with the basics of what they should expect during their normal day. Everybody wants to be better, so after the initial orientation comes job training, training and more training. Train for the job. Set expectations. Train for the skill.
Think about your people as a team. If you put people out by themselves, you are setting them up for failure. So when possible, let them work in crews of three or four people. An important element that helps you build a team is a uniform. Put everyone in a team uniform and they are a team. Give them the right tools and the right safety equipment to do their job. Always provide ongoing training. Treat them with respect. Have everyone on your team abide by the same rules, same standards and same goals and your team will succeed.
Ken Hutcheson is president of U.S. Lawns, a family-owned and operated franchise business based in Orlando, Fla. He has a bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Florida, and in 2005 was recognized by the International Franchise Association as a certified franchise executive. He has been a licensed certified pest control operator for over 20 years, and is a board member of several industry-related organizations,