How to Manage and Motivate Your Millennial Job Crews - Landscape Management Software
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How to Manage and Motivate Your Millennial Job Crews

“These kids today don’t know what a hard day’s work is,” says nearly every 50+ year old since the dawn of time. Today’s generation, however, is arguably in a class of its own. Now the largest generation in the workforce, millennials have been raised with (& on) technology and are shaking things up in workplaces everywhere.

For better or worse, millennials will form the majority of your landscape crew labor and you and your foremen will need to learn how to manage and motivate them to get the results you want.

Wishing for the old days and complaining that this generation doesn’t work as hard as you did won’t change a thing. Instead, implement the following best practices to avoid frustration and maximize your millennial workforce.


1. Manage Job Expectations

The Baby Boomer generation generally believes that going the extra mile and putting in long hours is the way to climb the career ladder. Millennials, however, aren’t generally motivated by ladders or titles and simply work so they can have fun on their time off.

This generation strives for work/life balance so if you expect long hours, weekend work and hard labor, be straight up. Start off on the right foot by setting clear expectations with these 5Ws:

  • Who do they report to?
  • What days/hours will they be scheduled each week?
  • Where are they expected to be on a daily basis?
  • When will they have time off? Will it be paid or unpaid?
  • Why does their job performance matter to the customer/ crew /company?
  • How will they be compensated for overtime/rewarded for exceeding expectations?

Whether you’re hiring seasonal snow removal employees or landscape designers, outline their job role expectations and your responsibilities as an employer clearly– in writing, and have them agree before they sign on the dotted line. If you misrepresent the job before they start or fail to provide complete information, don’t be surprised when they get frustrated and under-perform until they quit or you terminate them.


2. Enforce Policies & Procedures

If your employee is expected on-site at a design-build job at 9 a.m., they should be there. No excuses.

Today’s younger generation may be used to Mom and Dad driving them to school when they’ve slept in, swooping in with excuses for missed assignments and perhaps making a few calls to the teacher regarding a bad grade. Unfortunately, a boss is a poor substitute for a doting parent. It should be made very clear that a pink slip (not a note from Mom) is what happens when there’s a consistent failure to respect the rules at work.

Having clearly outlined policies and procedures regarding everything from working hours and safety protocols to work uniforms and proper documentation is critical to your business. But these rules are useless unless they’re consistently enforced so make sure your foremen are on board.


3. Set Short Term Goals for Mutual Long Term Success

Gone are the days of the ‘mindless laborer’ who clocks in and out, keeps to himself and does what he’s told. Young workers today want goals, a clear path forward and regular feedback on job performance and/or progress towards their goals.

Having grown up playing video games – where every screen has a goal, a score, and a way to advance (‘level up’), it’s no wonder millennials crave clarity, credit and rewards.

Millennials need to know they’re on the right path and understand the objectives along the way. Instituting a consistent meeting schedule will be critical in order to establish trust, build relationships and ultimately, improve overall productivity.

Here’s how you can give your team members what they want and get what you need:

  • Assign them a task, explain how to do it and why it’s done that way.
  • Learn to expect questions and answer them patiently.
  • Give them the results ( ie. ‘their score’) at the end of each day (and each job).
    • Are they on track or falling behind?
    • Where is their job taking them?
    • Can they advance/level up in your company? How?
  • Ask for their feedback.
    • What could have made your job faster/easier today?
    • Can you explain why you’re doing your work in that order?
    • Can you show me how you inspected that equipment before use?
  • Introduce technology that will make their jobs easier and more efficient.

Pro Tip: Learn more about how to set goals for staff and company success in A Landscaper’s Guide to Attracting & Keeping the Best People.


4. Take Action on Inaction

Be quick to pull the trigger on those that are hurting, rather than helping, your company’s productivity. Their negative attitudes and sub-par work ethic will infect the rest of your company.

Younger workers will resent the fact that under-performers are rewarded just about the same as high performers and there’s a good chance they will lower their standards because, ‘what’s the point?’. Sooner or later, the lowest level of performance will become your company standard while you shake your head saying, “It’s so hard to find good people these days.”

You’ve no doubt worked hard to create a positive company culture–one where employees enjoy coming to work every day. When you make the protection of that culture a priority by quickly dismissing workers that threaten it, you’re earning the trust and loyalty of your best landscape business workers. Plus, you’re working to build and sustain an environment that attracts and retains top talent.

“I’ll never understand these kids today.” Managing a millennial workforce may seem completely alien but by following the best practices outlined above, you’ll build bridges that meet their needs while maximizing your company’s productivity. And at the end of the day, you’ll realize that the younger generation isn’t all that bad after all…once you get to know them.


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Wishing you every success in hiring the right people for your business,



Mark Bradley is the CEO of LMN. Dedicated to transforming talented landscapers into profitable business owners, LMN provides the business management software and training owners need to grow. To learn more about how you can start transforming your business, FREE, with the LMN software platform, visit in attending an LMN workshop? Visit to register for a workshop near you.


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