Done with landscape project delays? Keep your team on track with this simple system

If you’re tired of the shrugging and finger-pointing when things go wrong within your organization, it’s time to instill better accountability measures. How? With a Goal Setting & Review (GSR) system.

Landscaping serves up some of the most demanding projects out there. Between the physical exertion, grueling hours, seasonal uncertainty and relentless customer expectations, it’s a wonder you’ve been able to find any staff at all who are willing to take it on.

But no sooner have you managed to clear that daunting hiring hurdle, then you’re faced with the next: getting your team to do what needs to be done.

It sounds so straightforward, and yet… even if their onboarding went smoothly, a few weeks later, responsibilities are being dropped, issues are being overlooked, and you’re stuck cleaning up a mess. Again.

Fortunately, there is another way. In this article, we’ll show you how a GSR system can help focus and align your team so your projects run smoothly, your profit margins soar and – most importantly – your stress levels shrink.

How do I know if my team has an accountability problem?

Accountability is a mouthful of a word that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it really entail? In the context of a landscape team, it means each team member knows exactly what they need to accomplish and commits to seeing it through. 

In contrast, a company culture that lacks accountability will result in everyone being on the back foot, constantly in reaction mode. Particularly… you.

Here are a few ways to tell if accountability issues are plaguing your business:

Standards seem arbitrary

You may have some processes or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place, but nobody takes them seriously or makes any real effort to follow them. Instead, they just do things their own way… or not at all.

Too much buck-passing

Your team uses the phrase “not my job” so often, you’ve quit trying to get to the bottom of how things went sideways. The effort feels futile and in any case, you’re so busy putting out the fire, you don’t have time to chase down whoever’s to blame for starting it.

Misplaced initiative

The task was to remove some grass in preparation for a flower bed. Now you’ve got an angry customer on the line wanting to know why their entire lawn was dug up. Things are getting done… just not the stuff you’ve asked for.

Rampant entitlement

Your staff has put the cart before the horse when it comes to career progression. Not to be mistaken for ambition (which is a good thing), with entitlement, you’re getting requests for raises, promotions or other rewards that haven’t been earned.

Stuck in a rut

You may be busy, but your company has hit a plateau. Work is happening, but your team is just going through the motions. There’s not a lot of day-to-day joy being found by anyone, yourself included.

How does goal setting improve accountability?

Goal setting has long been known as a foundation for high performance, but goals alone don’t guarantee success. Maybe you’ve noticed this with your own business. You know what you want to achieve. You know your team is capable. But somewhere between the goal and the outcome… things fall apart.That’s because goal setting is like dropping a pin on a map. Goals are endpoints, but they’re only half the equation. The crucial component is finding the path to hitting them and then reviewing them after the fact. That’s what builds accountability.

Introducing the Goal Setting & Review (GSR) system

Becoming an organization that embraces – rather than shuns – accountability doesn’t have to be painful. You just need a good system. Goal Setting & Review (GSR) is a leadership tool that bridges the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

It provides a framework for expectations and defines precise action items while giving you visibility into the state of your projects.

We’ve seen companies achieve exceptional growth after instituting a GSR system. If you’re curious to learn more, WATCH THE WEBINAR where LMN and Breakthrough Academy (BTA) will unveil the secrets behind using a GSR system to better support your team.

The GSR Dashboard

The Goal Setting & Review system centers around a dashboard you create together with each of your direct reports. It outlines their:

  • Specific goals
  • Related actions items
  • Timeframes for completion

When setting goals, clarity is essential. To avoid overwhelming your team, only give each direct report one or two high-priority goals to accomplish at a time. Break large goals into manageable chunks defining what needs to be done each week.

Make each goal crystal clear so later you can both easily tell whether it’s completed or not. Evaluating success should be black or white. There’s no space for gray zones here.

Ready to go deeper on “Black & White Accountability?”

Listen to this episode of the Contractor Evolution podcast from Breakthrough Academy.

Computer screen BTA

We’ve got a GSR dashboard template to get you started on your accountability journey.

It’s available for FREE when you WATCH the webinar.

The GSR Meetings

The next key aspect of the GSR system is one-on-one review meetings between you and your direct report, where you’ll review the status of their goals across three time frames:

  • Past – what they’ve done
  • Present – how it’s going now
  • Future – what they intend to do next

While there is a lot of flexibility in how you set up your GSR system (for instance, whether you decide to do weekly versus bi-weekly meetings) there are a few elements that remain essential:

  • Consistency: The meeting schedule should be set in stone. Whatever the rhythm, it should occur at the same time, every time.
  • Preparation: To maximize productivity, your employee should show up with their dashboard ready and all relevant metrics filled in.
  • Focus: Give your direct report your undivided attention during your GSR meetings. This isn’t the time for multi-tasking.

In the meeting, you’ll go through each project and answer questions such as:

  • Is the project on schedule?
  • Is it on budget?
  • Are the labor hours on track?
  • What’s the percent completion status?
  • Has the client update been sent out?
  • Do we foresee any possible issues? If so, how can we get in front of them?

That last one will ensure your team remains proactive about problem solving and gives you the opportunity to guide them through potential obstacles, while allowing them to remain empowered.

The most vital GSR question

Before any GSR meeting ends, make sure you ask one thing: How are you doing?

This is the most fundamental question because it lets your staff know they’re supported. Beyond just keeping projects on track, GSR meetings help you develop your relationships with your employees.

A GSR system isn’t just about your team working to achieve your goals for your company. It’s also about you helping to develop their career.

While you’ll only be holding GSR meetings with your direct reports, the system can have a knock-on effect throughout the entire organization. Productivity becomes more efficient. Employee retention improves. Staff develop faster. It’s the ultimate win-win.

How a landscaper grew to be A Cut Above

After another year whisked by without delivering the results he was hoping for, Jason Hoke decided to make a change with his business, A Cut Above Landscape. Together with Breakthrough Academy he implemented various systems, including GSRs. 

He went from working 12 hour days, living in his office, fighting to stay above water, to ramping up his revenues by a colossal 6X and cutting his work hours in half (yes, half!). Learn more about Jason’s tremendous transformation in this video.

Getting your team onboard

In an ideal world, you implement a GSR system, your team loves it, immediately buys in, and you start getting the absolute best from them the next day.

In reality… things may not be that easy. Some staff might struggle to meet the new standards. Some might recognize this way of working isn’t for them and bow out on their own. Others will require you to unearth the resources they need to unlock their full potential.

In the best-case scenario, they’ll expand their capabilities and will thank you for it. In the worst case, if their performance doesn’t improve regardless of what you try, you may have to make a tough call.In our experience, however, employees generally respond very well to the structure and encouragement they receive through a GSR system. High performers want to have clear goals and deliverables. And, trust us, you want to nurture high performers.

Accountability starts with you

Many landscapers worry that making accountability a more entrenched part of their business will lead to: 

  • Feeling like they have to crack the whip… and then nobody will like them.
  • Getting stuck having to do a bunch of handholding they don’t have time for.
  • Losing people. When it’s already so difficult to find staff!

All those fears aside, though, the underlying reason that instilling accountability is so daunting is because when all is said and done… accountability lies with you.

You’re the leader. It’s time to start acting like one.

Change the world, one lawn at a time

At first glance, it could seem like sculpting a system around goals only pertains to what happens inside your business. But look closer, and you’ll see a rippling effect that extends well beyond that.

By holding your team to higher standards, you invite them to take greater pride in themselves, both inside and outside of work. Before long, they’ll start to realize the positive influence they have on everyone around them.
Don’t underestimate the power of your small business to have a big impact on the wider world. A little accountability can go a long way.

Allentuck Landscaping turned around sub-zero profits with GSRs

With help from both LMN and BTA, Bruce Allentuck managed to take his business, Allentuck Landscaping Co., from having negative net profits to reaching profit levels the company hadn’t seen in years. 

Even more importantly, in his own words: “we grew people who became leaders, developed a strong culture, and created processes that will continue to drive growth and strengthen our team.”

A solid GSR system helps everyone stay on track (including you!). Your team becomes proactive. Your profits improve. And your phone quits ringing at all hours of the day and night. Learn more tools, tips and tricks in the webinar!

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