Strengthening your team
Recruiting the right fit
For a lot of greenhouse and nursery growers, finding new employees involves luck more than strategically recruiting people with qualities you want for your team. That can get an extra body on site during your busy time, but peak season immediately gets more complex when that person isn’t a good fit. Focused recruitment helps ensure new hires fit your company culture, lifts the burden off existing staff, and builds morale all around.
Recruiting is most effective when you think of it as a year-round opportunity to grow your future and strengthen your staff. But even during your busiest times, it’s critical to focus on the long haul and make time to do it right. Network with local schools, your horticulture peers, and loyal customers. Look wherever you find people that share your passion for growing and making the world a better, greener place. Don’t settle for just anyone who comes your way, even with recommendations, unless you believe they fit.
Interviewing with intention
If you don’t already have a thoughtful, well-developed interview process, it’s time you did. That doesn’t mean it has to be formal and fussy—unless that’s who you are. If that’s the case, then that’s fine. Whatever your approach, it needs to be authentic and reflect you, your operation, and your existing team. If you have a set of standard questions that have been in place for more than a few years, it’s time to revisit those and revise them.
Times have changed. People have changed, and so has your business. Brainstorm with your most trusted staff about what you really want and hope to see for your business and for them. Think about the one person who most surprised you in becoming a top-notch employee. What qualification did you think that person lacked—that they didn’t even need? Rethink what you want in people you may work with for many years. Then revise your screening process, so your interviews align with your intent.
Orientation and onboarding
When a new hire steps into their position for the first time, regardless of the extent of their experience or responsibilities, a lot of emotions can be going on. By taking time to orient that person, help them feel confident, and integrate them into your organization, you help ensure their feelings will be positive. That’s important because those same feelings will be conveyed—intentionally or unintentionally—to other employees and customers that encounter your new hire.
Forbes recently reported that 80% of new employees who get less-than-adequate orientation make plans to quit soon. If you feel like you don’t have the time or staff to properly orient new hires, imagine the impact when that new employee walks at the height of spring. Take time to familiarize them with you, your company goals, and your company culture. Introduce them to all your key folks. Let them know they’re part of your team—informed, confident, and valued from day one.
Training is one key to building a strong, dynamic team—and it shouldn’t start or stop with just new hires. Ongoing training programs aimed at all your employees can help build understanding, camaraderie, and strength through all levels of your team. Training in customer service, personal interactions, product knowledge, and company procedures helps new hires feel grounded and existing employees feel equally valued, prepared, and equipped to succeed and grow. (A product session with your local ICL territory manager is a great training tool to add to the mix.)
Don’t forget that training isn’t limited to formal instruction, workshops, and webinars. Everything you and your staff say and do serves to teach or “train” new hires and other employees what’s expected and acceptable, and what’s not. Only when you keep that framework in mind can you build a strong team, grow them even stronger, and see the results you want.