Words of Wilson will teach you each month to better understand, develop and manage your most valuable resource – your people.

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At a time when work is plentiful and there are more job openings than people to fill them, it’s no surprise to anyone running a landscape company today that solving HR challenges is our industry’s biggest box to think out of.

For many companies, the disparity between demand and supply, and H-2B issues in particular, have been devastating.

Most of us easily acknowledge that hiring and training are critical components to running an effective business.

But despite our best intentions, the labor shortage has left some of us feeling vulnerable.

Having just completed the first round of peer group meetings for 2017 (seven groups and 40 companies representing nearly 80 leaders among them), one unifying takeaway from this sample has emerged: In each successful company, when faced with disruptive challenges such as these, there is a unifying consensus about mindset.

I have observed that common to each leader is an unrelenting focus on the big picture, a view of problem-solving as a continuous journey and the ability to run their company with a positive vibe instead of one full of frustration and negativity.

If our most important job as owners is to inspire and create a better future for our companies, then liberating our thinking is the first step to leading change.

In my experience, personality and leadership styles may differ, but all the high-performing CEOs I know share an ability to withstand adversity and have a fearless sense of urgency about making their companies more meaningful.

“Most of us acknowledge that hiring and training are critical components to running an effective business.”
The operation-centric CEO:

This owner views his business from the inside out.

He’s thinking about how well the gears turn, how to produce more with less, raising rates of pay to attract a different pool of employees, and encouraging his entire work team to be on-the-ground recruiters, bringing in friends and family.

This CEO will solve the workforce problem through improved functionality, championing people pipeline development, professional training and building well-lubricated systems and processes that sustain careers.

The bottom line CEO:

This owner is constantly fine-turning risk and profitability. He grows what’s working, eliminates what’s not, aligns operations to sales, gives sales an operational mindset and devises pricing strategies to quickly recover higher labor costs. This CEO sees value from outside consultants, relying on data, professional recruiters and cost/benefit analyses to solve problems.

The technology CEO:

These execs know there’s an app for that. They find digital opportunities for every idea and find new ways of improving upon old things. They are proud of going paperless.

They use social channels to expand their message and recruiting reach. They use automated, remote and wireless technologies to streamline operations, proposal and administrative processes.

They set up customer portals and vendor management systems, implemented green/cost effective materials and file sharing to simplify management of the field and produce more value for customers.

The Great Bambino.

Like Babe Ruth said about baseball, “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” Highly effective CEOs already know this. If the demand for high-quality employees with skills and experience will continue to grow, then creating a culture focused on positive outcomes will make it easier to hire and retain employees who believe they are part of a bright future.

When CEOs lead with a growth mindset, the enthusiasm is contagious. Everyone in the company knows what winning looks like and why it’s important to have a collective commitment to success.

Bruce Wilson is principal of green industry consulting firm Bruce Wilson & Company.