When someone visits North Creek Nurseries, they often comment about how many young people we have working at the nursery. This is not by accident. We like to hire people who are enthusiastic about coming to work and excited about the job they are going to do. While many of them have a background in plants or ecology, a combination of both, or some type of work experience at other nurseries or public gardens, few have actual training in the management or supervision of coworkers. Without the proper management skill set, they will struggle to be effective leaders. It’s important that owners and upper management recognize this and give employees every opportunity to succeed.
North Creek has tried over the years to build on this idea by taking steps to ensure the success of our managers, as well as general staff. We like to think we are growing our own managers because we have the ability to train them in the way we want things done, and then let them develop their own management style within our company culture and values. We also want our managers to grow professionally within the business and be able to visualize their future career path with our help. Our strategy is to retain them for the long haul.
Train, Delegate, Then Step Back and Mentor
When we were developing North Creek’s strategic plan, we held to the tenet of creating an environment of continuous learning. It’s part of our value statement. Our action plan calls for empowering our employees to become better leaders by giving them the skills to do so. That has to do with training on every level, from the new hire of labor, to managers, and even to office and sales staff, as well as senior staff and the owner.
In the past, we sent several managers and supervisors to an outside course, but it didn’t have the impact we expected. We now use an in-house training course we developed that covers topics such as developing management attitudes and skills, lean management, optimum provision management, and collaboration. We also try to meet weekly in groups to discuss a wide range of topics that pertain to what the team is facing, and what they want to improve on, or just learn more about. We also have a library stocked with many books on management that we encourage employees to take home and study.
This approach is important because managers have a direct influence on the overall success of a company. Good, respected managers have a positive impact on team performance and boost morale, which in turn increases employee retention. We feel that one of the most important things we can do to empower future managers, and the employees they will eventually lead, is to help them understand that they are not effective leaders based on how much their people need them, but by how much their people can do without them. Training and delegating, then providing the necessary support and additional professional development training, allows team members to achieve their greatest potential.
It’s an ongoing process that requires much attention to detail, but the effort pays big dividends. Invest in training that fits your company culture and watch your team perform and grow. The managers you invest in today will be your leaders in the future.