Open Book Management: To Win the Game, You Need the Right Team | LMN

Open-Book Management: To Win the Game, You Need the Right Team


"Great vision without great people is irrelevant."– Jim Collins.

Editor's Note: Ryan Markewich (@rmarkcoaching) is an Advisor/Coach/Owner at Rmark Coaching and the Founder/Shareholder of Creative Roots Landscaping. Ryan is a guest contributor to LMN. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.

About halfway through my 26 years as the owner of Creative Roots Landscaping, I started to hit the same roadblock that most overly ambitious, chaos-thriving, "I can do anything," novice business owner does. It's called burnout, and it came with a lot of frustration and finger-pointing at reasons I'm now glad I think differently about.

While I didn't always express my thoughts aloud, I often asked myself questions like "how can the people I'm hiring not understand?" or "why don't they care?" At that time, I attributed my people problems to the thought that people are people and, just like me, come with a little or a lot of baggage that I would just have to put up with and workaround. The reality was that I didn't know what to do when it came to working on the business in a manner that gave the people within it a reason to be fully engaged until I implemented the open-book management style.



Understanding the Problem

Don't get me wrong, over the years, we hired many people who did excellent work. The problem was we were consistent when it came to attracting and keeping both the right and wrong people, and that was a problem we had to own.

Fortunately, I was on an unstoppable mission to grow. I chose to take an intentional approach to learn everything I could about building the type of relationships that would lead to getting better engagement, higher profits, and ultimately future freedom. The kind of freedom that would allow me to add value by working on my business instead of just making sure it kept running.



Who to Hire for Your Landscape Business

Finding the right talent to recruit doesn't have to be complicated. But there are a few things you need to know before deciding to hire your staff. What you call them is not essential. It can be a player, rockstar, the "right person," or whatever works. What is important is the definition of what that means.



"The right people are the ones who share your company's core values. They fit and thrive in your culture. They are people you enjoy being around and make your organization a better place to be." – Gino Wickman, author of Traction

Now, use that statement to make all hiring decisions moving forward: read it before posting for a new hire; read it before interviewing; read it when onboarding; read it during review time; read it at your spring orientation; post it in your company huddle room and at your annual planning meeting. Do you get that? Drive the open-book management concept into the very fabric of your company culture. And before all, be sure that you, the person that everyone is supposed to look up to, are behaving in a manner consistent with your right person statement.


Building Strong Relationships

Good relationships start with honesty: Keep it real when hiring and NEVER misrepresent yourself or the company.

"A brand is the sum total impression and memory of every re-markable, every-so-so, and every negative experience with any and all touchpoints of an organization. You don't own it – all the people thinking about you do". – Ted Matthews

Reading that definition hit home and helped me to understand that the secret to finding and keeping the right people from the recruitment process to perhaps, at some point, a partnership, was to keep the story of our brand genuine.

When it comes to open-book management, avoid making claims like creating places that matter, being the premier landscape company, the best place to work, or others in your efforts unless you can prove them to be true. Why? Because the people you want to hire – the "right people" – are savvy and will, in short order, see any difference between what you are telling them and what they experience for themselves. If the two are not in proper alignment, barriers will start to go up and stifle the relationship's ability to be the best it can.



NOTE: Your company's vision is a powerful tool for attracting and hiring like-minded people. Sharing the business's why, mission, and long-term vision will also get people excited about coming aboard and contributing to the journey. Consider that statement similar to having a pre-landscaped property alongside another with a beautiful photorealistic 3D landscape design, you are trying to sell your clients. It's not that hope exists but instead speaks of something grander, and that is something everyone can learn.

Don't Reinvent the Wheel

You don't have to reinvent the wheel. All you have to do is get some advice and adopt some already proven methods. Truthfully, the process of having to find new employees wasn't something I looked forward to until we intentionally took the time to get better at it. Luckily, there is a lot of helpful information available from experts in the field to draw from and to implement a well-rounded open-book management strategy.

For example, almost two decades ago, my company came across Topgrading, developed by the renowned expert on the subject, Brad Smart. His methods transformed the candidate interview from a standard formality to a thorough, highly revealing engagement. I consider it one of the best systems for improving the recruiting and hiring process, and we still use some of those techniques with others we adopted along the way.


Change Your Beliefs and Take Action

Take Ownership

Start with the mindset that if you are not getting what you expect from your employees, you and your systems are at fault.

Let Negative Beliefs Go

Don't waste your valuable time and energy finger-pointing or complaining about the current generation. It builds a preconceived belief that won't get you anywhere.

Put in the Effort

It's going to take some time and effort to learn from others. Improve on you and your people systems to make long-lasting positive change.



A company's ability to win big will ultimately rely much more on the who than the what. This is true whether your win is as a well-run, one-person operation or a multi-million dollar venture with a future team of 10, 20 or 100.


About Me

Through my experiences, I have been fascinated by business and all it offers to improve people's lives. From working on the shovel, business visioning, and everything in between, to now sharing my experiences through personalized coaching services, my goal is to help other owners work on their business, increase profits, and have more time for themselves while finding enjoyment along the way.

For More Information

What's your biggest pain point? Let's connect to discuss how having Ryan coach you through implementing open-book management can change your landscape business for the better. Contact Ryan today to schedule a time to chat with me. To learn more about implementing landscape business management tactics – sign up for the LMN Academy today.

Ryan Markewich
Ryan Markewich
Ryan started his landscape business, Creative Roots, in 1994. Thirteen years later when he adopted Open Book Management, hired a coach, and started playing The Great Game of Business everything began to change. He went from running the show by himself – while feeling the like the show was running him – to bringing three co-owners on board and educating his employees so they understood the business they way he did. It’s given Ryan the freedom to step back, empower other leaders to step up, and do more of the things he loves – including starting a coaching business so he can show others how they can “put down the shovel” and elevate their business.

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