Consider yourself the master of your flock, but not its baby-sitter. Spending too much time micro-managing is a quick way to lose control of the situation. The trick is to be hands-off, yet constantly mindful of the condition of your work force. You’ve got to have the patience to let your employees play out difficulties to see who responds and who folds.
Finding a quality manager is like finding a good sheep-dog. Characteristics like trust and loyalty are important, and each needs to have a willingness to take direction and run with it. There’s also no mistaking who will be doing most of the leg work.
However, unlike sheep-herding, it’s not so easy to pick out who’s up to the challenge of tending the flock. Yet there are tried-and-true ways of finding which people are best-suited to become managers:
Challenge accepted. Take a chance and throw a curve-ball at your employees. Have them develop a project and see how well they handle it. As a manager, there are lots of responsibilities, but you also have a lot of freedom, which can be a big plus (or a poison).
A word of caution, most employees (like most major-league hitters) don’t like it when you only throw curves their way. Make it a seasonal endeavor, a way to check-in on who’s really trying and who’s just trying to get by.
Teacher says… A common theme for people fit for managerial roles is that they are good at facilitating a learning environment. Good instruction can be a hard thing to come by, especially if you’re just starting out with a fresh crop of young John and Jane Doe’s who may not be experts in snow plowing services or your lawn maintenance business. Having someone in charge who can put technical verbiage into simple terms can be a welcome asset.
UNDER PRESSURE. Keep an eye out for employees who can take the heat. There will be moments of duress, or even emergencies, where you can’t be there to call the shots. A good manager has knowledge of more than just day-to-day ops. They’ve got to know the contingency plans and have the gumption to follow through when the pressure is on. Mistakes do happen, a good manager knows how to deal when these mistakes come up and how to prevent them from happening again.
Listen here, now. Back to the sheep-dog analogy – being a good listener doesn’t always mean taking direction well from you. In fact, if you get the sense that your managerial candidate is only focusing on pleasing you and not working with others, you might have a problem. Good managers are vocal and open to their coworkers’ opinions.
Taking problems head on. A good manager understands that the progress of your business is more than just what you find on a quarterly chart. They know that there is always room to improve and that problems need to be addressed today, not tomorrow.The hallmark of an excellent manager is an inability to procrastinate.
Dedication and passion for the passionately dedicated. This is usually the most blatant tell for any business owner, especially in field service businesses. The most enthusiastic employees are generally pre-destined for leadership roles. You don’t necessarily need happy-go-lucky types, but people who seem genuinely invested in their progress. These are the men and women who show up and take the time to get a job done the right way, even if it means staying an extra fifteen minutes after shift’s over. This type of role model behavior can have a strong effect on your labor force, and it always has the potential to become contagious.
Now that you've identified your future managers, it's time to start working on other areas of your business. Download our free eBook, 33 Stupid Things Contractors Do (and How to Fix Them), to find out how to improve your green industry business today!