Virginia Green Lawn Care Appoints COO

Above: Cornell University’s Erica Dawson told NALP members that employee motivation goes beyond a paycheck.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals hosted the Leader’s Forum 2018 in Punta Cana from January 25-27, where employee motivation was a main theme. Here are some highlights of the event.


If you look at your employees, there’s a good chance that only 30 percent of the group are very engaged in their work. About 50 percent are not engaged and only there for a paycheck. Worse still, 20 percent are severely decoupled.

Erica Dawson of Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson School of Management shared these numbers during her Why We Work keynote at the National Association of Landscape Leaders’ forum at the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

“When you have 10 employees, only 3 say they are actively involved in the work that they are doing,” she said.

While the 20 percent that is severely decoupled is basically a lost cause, the 50 percent that is not engaged can be won, Dawson said.

You may enjoy your work, but it is not a place of satisfaction. Happiness is measured by how far away they are from their weekend.

“This is a big missed opportunity in the workforce,” says Dawson. “A lot more is possible for these people.”

But before you just throw money on them, be aware that this may not be the best solution for making this employee more engaged.

“There isn’t much evidence that this is true,” she said, just increasing the pay. “Pay has nothing to do with job satisfaction.”

Dawson said the best way to engage employees is to find out their core values ​​and tie those values ​​to the job.

Core values ​​are not the following: Competencies – things you are good at; Should – “I should have more control, I should have stood up for myself;” Wishes; A company motto or virtues.

“Your core values ​​are much more personal than that,” she says. “Your values ​​really are your North Star.”

To discover your core values, Dawson recommends reaching out to someone you admire and asking yourself what makes that person so compelling. Also, look at moments when you sacrificed something – look at the reason you made the sacrifice and the answer could lead to a core value. Finally, talk to someone about a “high point” in your life and explain why you felt so happy about that moment.

If you can find out the core values ​​of your employees, you can design their work in a way that means more to them.

This is what you as a business owner should be doing: “Instead of finding a bigger bonus for someone,” Dawson said.


Sometimes a gift card for a nice restaurant isn’t the best way to recognize an employee’s good work.

This was the case with a client of Sean Martin’s when the assistant professor at the Carol School of Management at Boston College was a management consultant. This client always gave employees an upscale restaurant gift card to show the company’s appreciation for a job well done.

Except for one day, an employee returned the gift card to the HR manager. The HR manager couldn’t believe it because the manager would love a gift card there, Martin said. But the employee explained that the gift card means that she needs to buy a nice dress, find a babysitter, and if she exceeds the amount on the gift card, the money in her pocket.

“There is a disagreement about what managers do to motivate and what actually motivates the employee,” said Martin. Martin’s “Diversity That Is Difficult to See: Motivation and Social Class Psychology” session at Leader’s Forum explored how lower-income workers see motivation differently than upper-class workers. Here are some hiring and retention tips from Martin.

Stay away from groups. If you want unfiltered feedback on your company, don’t ask employees in a group setting. They don’t give honest feedback, or maybe they don’t give any feedback. “You’re scared of looking stupid,” he said.

Invite you to a conversation. Martin says, not to say, “Don’t bring me a problem unless you have a solution.” This is a great deterrent when trying to figure out problems in your business.

Understand priorities. Martin said studies show that lower-income people give community / family more priority than any job. “The social capital they develop in their community is far more important than the paycheck,” he said.

Don’t speak out loud. Martin says that many lower-income employees do not want to speak when there is a problem because they work from a “don’t complain, don’t speak” point of view. “You may have to make extra efforts,” said Martin.

Illustrate the value of the work. A study was conducted of low-wage workers calling to solicit donations for a university. The job was so bad it had 350 percent sales. The study divided the employees into two groups. One group did the work as is, and the other group had lunch with students who were receiving scholarships based on phone calls from staff. A week after that lunch, a number of work performance measures increased, including donations and phone calls to the group that had lunch with the students.


The Unplugged CEO’s panel consisted of: Paul Fraynd, Sun Valley Landscapes; Chris Joyce, Joyce Landscapes; Jennifer Lemcke, Weed Man USA; Jason Mathers, Monarch Landscapes; Mark Tomko, Metco Landscape.

The panel, moderated by Scott Jamieson, vice president of community partnerships and director of the Midwest at Bartlett Tree Experts, looked at issues such as work-life balance, managing email and morning routines. Below are some lessons from the panel.

Describe the position. Mathers said his company was losing people as his company grew. Employees would fit if the company was size, but as the company got bigger these people no longer fit and they were laid off. To stop sales, the company began profiling key top performers and using them as a benchmark of who would fit into the company and then writing a job description. While caring for the employee, Mathers was able to track key indicators and work on the areas where the employee was having problems. If it didn’t work out and you had to fire someone, you can locate the area that caused it.

Accept the reality. As an entrepreneur and manager, Lemcke said, sometimes you have to accept that you cannot be everything for everyone, and sometimes a good work-life balance is not possible. “When I accepted that I was taking a little break,” she said. She started running again. Joyce said he was beginning to realize that he wouldn’t always be the best father. “Let’s face it, you do what you have to do,” he said.

Rise and shine. Fraynd said he didn’t look at his cell phone for an hour after he woke up, and it helped him imagine his days. Joyce goes to coffee every morning on a 7/11 where he hears the same group of men sitting around a table complaining about everything while getting his coffee. Then he drives to work and has loads of negatives for the day. When attending a meeting, he reminds all attendees to be positive and not join the “Broken Dreams Breakfast Club”.

Event sponsors included: Caterpillar (Platinum), Bayer (Gold), John Deere (Silver). Other sponsors were: Toro, Aspire, GIE + EXPO, Syngenta, Bartlett Tree Experts, Gravely and Vermeer.


Sabeena Hickman, executive director of NALP, said the organization has seen 35 percent growth and will continue to focus on increasing the workforce through measures such as its careers website and a scheduled careers day in April.

The new board of directors of NALP:


President: Jeff Buhler, Massey Services

President-elect: Andrew Ziehler, Ziehler Lawn and Tree Care

Secretary / Treasurer: Shayne Newman, YardApes

Immediate Past President: Jon Cundiff, Weed Man


Bruce Allentuck, Allentuck Landscaping Co.

Jason Becker, caterpillar

Mike Bogan, LandCare

Pete Farno, Bayer

Jeff Fedorchak, TruGreen

Paul Fraynd, Sun Valley Landscaping

Bob Grover, Pacific Landscape Management

Phil Key, Ruppert Industries

Roscoe Klausing, Klausing Group

Joe Kujawa, Kujawa Enterprises, Inc.

Frank Mariani, Mariani Landscape

Joe Munie, Munie Greencare Professionals Inc.

Tim Portland, Yellowstone Landscaping

The association also presented two awards:

Entrepreneur of the Year: Jennifer Lemcke, COO Weed Man USA. Lemcke has been with Weed Man for more than 25 years, working with her husband Chris and father Roger Mongeon, CEO of Weed Man. Lemcke was instrumental in growing the company’s franchise in the United States, recently reaching the $ 100 million milestone. Lemcke said when she attends industry events, she’s usually the only woman in the room, but recently taught a class at BYU and half of the classroom was female students.

“It was very encouraging,” she said.

Lifetime Leadership Award: Frank Mariani, CEO of Mariani Landscape in Lake Bluff, Illinois. Mariani is the second generation to run the family-owned Mariani Landscape and grow it into an award-winning company servicing some of the most prestigious properties in the Chicago area.

Mariani says one of the most important lessons he learned during his decades in the industry was that not everyone was like him.

“I lost a lot of good people that way,” he says. “You can learn from these mistakes and share them with others so they don’t make the same mistake.”

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