Lead With Gratitude, Grace, and Obsession

Lead With Gratitude, Grace, and Obsession

Seems like an odd combination: gratitude, grace, and obsession right? Well it is at first blush. Unpack it and you’ll find it’s exactly the right recipe to show your employees that you care about what’s important. Finding and keeping the good ones on your team can be a full-time job, especially given the current labor climate. Here’s how you can make it a little easier on yourself.

Grace

To lead with grace requires knowing who you are, which allows you to inspire people to help you move the organization toward its goals. It’s a style of communication that is synonymous with respect and caring. If used appropriately, it can increase the levels of teamwork and create a cohesive culture by building trust and cooperation. A leader who creates this sort of working environment through their communication alone can certainly be called a graceful leader. 

One of the main attributes people who lead with grace also seem to have is authenticity. Authentic leaders are not afraid to show their vulnerability in front of employees. They are self-aware, which requires knowing and understanding themselves. They know that their vulnerability helps them to connect because people sense that they’re genuine. Authentic leadership, at its most basic, means not being “someone other” at work than you are at home. If you pretend to be one way at work and act another way at home, your behavior won’t be natural and you’ll come across as awkward and unsure, which will create distrust.

A second attribute that qualifies leading with grace is compassion. Compassion starts with a belief that ‘we are all created equally’ and that no ones’ work is above anyone else’s, including yourself as the leader. A leader who is compassionate is aware of and respectfully acknowledges employees’ efforts and feelings, which results in win-win situations more frequently. Instead of a transactional approach (“do what I say because I give you money and benefits”) or an authoritarian approach (“do it my way or get fired!”), a compassionate leader thinks about the collective: “Let’s achieve these great goals together.” A compassionate leader generously recognizes work well done, but also gently, firmly and without apology, corrects employee’s efforts as often as is needed. Helping an employee improve their performance through communication and feedback is compassionate. Letting an employee ‘wallow’ in bad work habits is not good for the company or the individual employee. They also tend to put employees first and attempt to be as flexible as possible if their employees have had difficulties, like a death in the family or divorce.

Learning to balance authentic and compassionate actions with accountability is the key to leading with grace.

Gratitude

The combination of leadership and gratitude is extremely powerful. The power of gratitude gives leaders the edge they need to quickly pivot during stressful situations, such as their team not performing or their bottom line dropping. When leaders pause for 60 seconds and use the Gratitude Practice outlined below, they give their brains and their bodies a chance to recalibrate. This allows them to focus not only on the present and how they can turn things around, but on hidden opportunities to be grateful. 

When leaders engage in this practice on a regular basis, they are able to generate gratitude from within, which allows them to show gratitude to others. Think of it in these terms:

A leader who is grateful towards his or her employees gains their respect.

The simple act of gratitude produces other behaviors. When a leader takes time to intentionally thank her employees, she gains their respect. Because gratitude is a virtue, we tend to respect those who exemplify it.

A leader who thanks his employees gains their trust.

Gratitude can’t be faked, and that’s one of the reasons why it is one of the emotions that elicits most trust.

A leader who thanks his employees gains their effort.

Gratitude also produces greater effort in those who sense it. Someone says, “Thanks, that was awesome! You totally rocked that deadline!” That kind of grateful language is encouraging, because it’s a reward for effort. When we’re rewarded for our effort in such a way, we want to give even more effort.

A leader who thanks his employees gains their appreciation.

We appreciate virtue when we see it i others. Thus, when you express gratitude towards other people, your behavior will gain appreciation.

A leader who expresses gratitude prevents other undesirable emotions.

Grateful people are rarely angry. And angry people are rarely grateful. Think of it like this, that gratitude can eliminate some of the more undesired traits associated with leaders — micromanagement, authoritarianism, rudeness, etc.

Obsession

A healthy obsession for the right things is ultra critical to drive the success of your company. Obsessing about quality of work, the level of service your employees perform for your clients, the way your employees treat your equipment…etc. A healthy obsessive tendency perpetuates a culture of continuous improvement. And a continuous improvement culture drives everyone to do better.

Leaders who take deep dives in to the processes that are critical to the delivery of product and service that drive revenue don’t let anything else preoccupy their mind. The go “all in”. Think of this like working on the business rather than in it, but 10X. This is where the details matter. Obsessed leaders look at every aspect of the business and how it runs, in it’s finest detail. From how your front line employees interact with your clients to the follow up emails they receive as a thank you for their business.

Don’t let yourself get distracted. Obsession with improvement means that every day, without fail, you will relentlessly focus on finishing each of these process goals. They become your top priority.

The landscape business owners I know who are at the top of their game got there not by wanting to be better, but by becoming obsessed with improving. Because we live in such a result-oriented society, it’s easy to forget that the key to happiness lies not in the end goal, but in the efforts along the way toward achieving the goals we’ve set for ourselves.

Interview with Wickie Rowland

Interview with Wickie Rowland

 

In a recent interview with Wickie Rowland, APLD of Labrie Associates Design & Build, our own Joe Salemi asks Wickie how she got started as a professional landscape designer, how she stays motived, where she draws her inspiration from, and how she decided to move forward with DynaSCAPE as her landscape design software of choice.

Wickie has recently achieved her certification with the Association of Professional Landscape Designers!

Wickie Rowland has been drawing ever since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Her landscape design work has been featured in KLC School of Design’s 2011, 2012, and 2013 London shows, and she won two bronze medals in the KLC School of Design’s 2013 Alumni competition, designing two gardens for the Eden Project in Cornwall, England. She was the recipient of the APLD Silver Award for the modified rain garden in 2017. On the other side of the competition coin, Wickie has also been a judge of the Boston Flower Show.

Besides using her drawing skills to design gardens, Wickie has written and illustrated two children’s books, Good Morning Strawbery Banke (which won first place in the New England Museum Association’s Publications competition in 2011) and Good Morning, Piscataqua, released in May of 2014.

Interview With Matt Hiner

Interview With Matt Hiner

 

In a recent interview with Matt Hiner of Hiner Landscapes in Colorado Springs, CO, our own Joe Salemi asks Matt how he got into the landscape business, what he has done to surround himself with a great team, and what drew him to DynaSCAPE. Matt referenced a great book, titled “The Great Game of Business” which is a very helpful business coaching system (https://www.greatgame.com).

Elite Award Winner for Innovation from the Association Landscape Contractors of Colorado!

Hiner Landscapes may not have invented 3D design, but they have definitely pioneered a design process that takes full advantage of its capabilities to provide a positive and informative experience. Their ground-breaking efforts earned us The ELITE Award for Innovation from Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado last year. Using several software programs together, Hiner is able to create a photo-realistic, animated fly-through video of a design concept. Illustrating the design in a way that 2D cannot. For professional landscape design, consultation and installation, more local homeowners are choosing Hiner Landscapes over any other landscape design/build firm in the area. They are the only firm that works laterally with their clients every step of the way to ensure their landscaping needs are met while upholding their high standards of professionalism and excellence.

Interview with Christian Brown

Interview with Christian Brown

In a recent interview with Christian Brown of Perfect Landscapes, our own Joe Salemi asks Christian how he got into the landscape business, what he has done to surround himself with a great team, and what drew him to DynaSCAPE.

Perfect Landscapes is the leader in custom residential and commercial landscape maintenance, design and installation for Northern Virginia.

They take pride in transforming your outdoor space into a usable, and enjoyable place that you will want to use every day and that will increase the value of your home and appeal of your business. Perfect Landscapes provides their clientele with formidable quality, design and service. The vision of the firm’s qualified professionals is to create new and innovative landscape architecture, while preserving the sanctity of traditional landscapes.

End of Season Wrap Up

End of Season Wrap Up

At this point in 2018 you’ll have decent understanding of your financial position. How did you do? Now’s the time to step back and see how you did. How you really did. There’s a lot to consider when trying to determine just how successful your season was. Did you trend toward the profit margin you set for yourself? Did you get that granular when you were doing your planning?

 

Profitability

At the highest level, you want to key in on where you were most profitable. Was it your design/build division? Or was it enhancements? Remember, don’t rely on just looking at your total sales. It’s more than that, look at your expenses (overhead, job related, and labor) that went along with generating that revenue. How much was left over? How did that compare to last year or the year before? (In DynaSCAPE Manage360, the job profitability report will show you this information.)

Take a look at your most profitable type of work, this will help you plan for the upcoming season by looking to sell more of that type of work that yields higher margins. How do you know what type of work is more profitable? Well, let’s break that down. These jobs tend to be what you’re best at, what your known for. Everyone has a speciality. What’s yours? These profitable jobs are usually what your crews like to do, you easily recover all of your overhead and job related expenses, and your clients are willing to pay more for that type of work. After it’s all said and done, it has the higher profit margin than your other jobs or services.

Is there a particular area that you service that has more affluent neighborhoods? Are you tracking where your affluent clients are? What geographies are producing the more profitable jobs for you? Are you visible in their circles? Be where your clients are, be as visible as you can. If you’re not, your competition will be.

 

Review this season’s budget and plan for next season

During your budget planning you would have set out your projected revenue for each of your divisions (design/build, enhancements, grounds maintenance, gardening, snow and ice as examples). Did you reach that key result? Did you fall short, meet it, or exceed it? Have you built up your pipeline enough to carry you through the spring for the upcoming season? Planning your expenses (both overhead/admin and job related) are key aspects of your budget planning process. Make sure you’re looking at it from all angles and include your key people. They’ll have insight into parts of the operation that you might not or might overlook. You’ll want to make sure you account for any planned equipment purchases, staffing needs, investments in coaching or consultants and software (hint DynaSCAPE!).

 

Staff performance reviews

Feedback for your staff is more important than you think. Don’t take it for granted that they know how you feel about their performance. Without the right feedback your staff are going to interpret your behavior as either positive or negative feedback. Saying nothing can be the most detrimental. If someone isn’t performing to their potential let them know how to improve in a constructive reaffirming way. If their behavior needs to be corrected then do it in a firm but coaching oriented manner. Reward those that go above and beyond. Your key people should be treated like they are key members of the team and compensated to reflect that. If not, you may find yourself looking to have to fill their spot because they moved on to an organization that will.

When wrapping up your season, it’s important to gather the key members of your team and do an open and honest debrief. Talk about what went really well and how you can repeat that. Talk about what really went horrible and how you can avoid it for next season. Plan strategically for the spring so you can hit the ground running.

Have you looked at DynaSCAPE’s Manage360? It’s your budgeting tool, your sales pipeline management system, estimating software, job and crew tracking, profitability reporting, and integration with QuickBooks. It’s really the operating system for your landscape business. We want to be a partner in your success. Get in touch with us and we’ll show you how we help transform landscape businesses.

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Creating a Change Order Culture

Creating a Change Order Culture

The important part to realize here is that when a client wants more work done a formal Change Order will help them understand that more work costs more money! Managing each change through a formal Change Order helps manage expectations and sets out a fair and equitable relationship between you and your client.

Let’s start out by clarifying what a Change Order is. Many contractors and subcontractors start off by offering their services to friends, making verbal contracts, and performing great work while trusting that they’ll be paid. Any modifications to the original project are discussed and verbally agreed without a fuss, and everyone walks away happy. Right. How often does it ever go that smoothly?

A change order is a document used to record an amendment to your original landscape construction contract. Change orders create a record of additional services being provided to your customer, along with pricing for those services. A subcontractor that neglects to use change orders may forget to bill additional costs related to the changes requested, or forget to complete the changes altogether.

 

A change order form has the following features:

  1. A revised scope of work – this could mean less work or more, but usually, the customer is asking for something in addition to what has already been agreed.
  2. Pricing for the new work.
  3. Any relevant modifications to the original contract that result from the new scope of work, for example, extending the delivery schedule for the project because the scope of work is now greater.
  4. The signatures of both the contractor and the customer.

The most important function of change orders is that they show the customer that getting more work done costs more money. Change orders were made to help you manage the customer that always wants more for less, and when combined with a detailed scope of work, you’ll have an easy time ensuring that both and your client are treated fairly.

Overall, just make it part of your standard operating procedures that anytime a client requests a change the request is communicated to the appropriate responsible person to create a change order and have the client sign off on the requested change. Make sure everyone on the team buys in to that. Sure it’s going to add more admin work to your already heavy workload, but it will save an incredible amount of headaches in the long run. Additionally, your client will respect your level of professionalism and appreciate your careful attention to detail on their project.

About Change Orders in Manage360

Change orders can be added to a job at any time, on the fly and on site. Once approved, it’s simply added to the current job in Manage360, which gives you different views of the job so you can see the original contract, the change orders, and a current view showing both.

With Job Management, each change order is tracked and billed separately, which not only ensures that you’ re paid for all additional work, but also lets you see exactly how you’re recovering your overhead for each change, and how all of the changes are affecting the job’s overall profitability.

With output to the client that’s based on the American Institute of Architects’ standard change order form, Job Management’s change order capacity is a simple solution to one of the industry’s most complex problems, namely, how to ensure that all of a job’s change orders are recorded, tracked and compensated for in a way that’s easy to do and consistent with your overhead recovery method.

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