A few years ago, I was presenting during an Account Manager Boot Camp and was impressed with a young attendee who sat in the third row. He showed up each day awake, alert, and ready to learn.
I had never seen him before, and I knew he wasn’t an account manager, so I was curious to know why he was there. During intros, one of the coaches asked him why he was in a class for managers.
“I’m grateful for the role I have now,” he said, “but I don’t want to be a foreman forever.”
I happen to know his company prioritizes growth and frequently capitalizes on the cross-training opportunities we provide. While it wasn’t necessarily surprising for me to see a foreman attend a class for account managers, it did strike me how unconventional this is in business.
Too often, owners and managers are so mired down in the day-to-day responsibilities of running the business that it can be difficult to step back long enough to take a breath, much less identify superstars on their teams ready for – and capable of – taking on a greater role in the business.
Take a moment to think back to your early days of landscape contracting. Maybe you had a five-year plan, or a ten-year plan, or even a long-range view of where you wanted your career to go. Each member of your team has both short- and long-term personal and professional goals, just like you did once upon a time (and hopefully still do).
Identifying your top talent and providing clear avenues for growth benefits the entire team, and it helps to give your business the solid backbone it needs to thrive in a competitive market.
With the start of the 2019 season upon us, now is a good time to think about which of your team members rose to the top when the going got tough. These will be the people you will want to keep an eye on over the coming weeks and months.
When you do identify them, be intentional about providing guidance, support and mentorship that allows them to thrive in their roles and prime them for increased responsibility.
Do you have an account manager who is especially good communicating with customers? This might be your next sales professional. Do you have a project crew member who is great at rallying the troops and keeping projects on time and under budget? This could very well be your next crew lead.
What if you’re the team member looking to move up? There are plenty of ways to show your managers you’re serious about growing and developing both in your role and within the organization.
Ask to attend training events for other roles. Take the initiative and sign up for continuing education courses in areas of interest. Pursue your landscape industry certification. Find a mentor, either on your team or within your circle of influence. Offer ideas and feedback at team meetings. Proactively identify ways to save yourself and the business time and money. All these measures will show you are committed to being a team player and advancing in the business.
If you’re a manager, it’s good to remember that effective leadership begins at the top. Consistently exhibiting servant leadership, the kind that supports and uplifts your team, is one way you can demonstrate to your valuable team members that you believe in their abilities and ambitions.
When they are treated like competent, skilled individuals, they will begin to believe it, and this confidence will manifest itself in truly remarkable ways. So, what are you waiting for? That foreman with the tucked-in shirt and the positive attitude just might be the single best account manager your business has ever seen.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Don Evans, president of LandOpt. Evans is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations and providing leadership by establishing and implementing long-range goals, strategies, plans and policies.