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Building a Culture of Mutual Respect

U.S. Lawns President Ken Hutcheson wanted to share some of his thoughts below on building a culture based on mutual respect.

A Stellar Team Is The Secret To Success

One of the big reasons U.S. Lawns is so special is because we recognize the role economic interdependence plays not just with vendors, suppliers and customers, but with employees too. The fact is, as business owners, we depend on our employees as much as they depend on us, and our greatest success comes from having a stellar team–and that happens through a culture of mutual respect.

Defining Culture

We often use words that can be interpreted in a number of ways, so before we talk about how to build a culture of mutual respect, it’s important to understand what culture means to us.

Culture is literally what happens when the business owner is not around.

For example, you may start off the day out in the shop, telling your crew how much you appreciate them, but if the moment you’re out of earshot your crew leader starts barking orders and treating everyone like animals, then that’s the real culture. It’s more of a top down culture, which, even though is quite common in the harsh world of service, does not fit our model at all.

Build A Culture Of Mutual Respect

U.S. Lawns is all about improving lives and improving communities, and we can only do that through a culture of mutual respect. It is not fake, or a cliché line written by a PR Agent. It is real and sincere, and the only way to do it is by being fully invested on a heart level and embracing diversity.

Mutual respect is actually the top line to creating a rock star team.

Of course, you have to select the right people and provide them with the resources to perform their jobs, but you also need to provide the resources they need to grow in their career: training, and a road map to show them where they’re going if they follow and meet certain benchmarks along the way.

But underlying all of this is a culture of mutual respect, which starts by acknowledging that everyone around you is different, and then by action, that it’s okay. It starts by respecting the cultures of each person on the team.

It is really cool to visit one of our territories and see flags representing all the different countries the team members have come from, hanging from the rafters–a flag of the United States of America, flags from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, South Africa, Canada…wherever it might be. That’s just one real-life example of ways our franchisees encourage that environment of mutual respect.

Be The Best Place To Work

It goes deeper than just flags hanging from the ceiling though. It takes radical personalization. It’s the ability for an owner, within the community of his workforce, to be able to walk over to an employee, hug him and say: “Things will be ok.”; or to approach an employee on a job site and say “You’ve done a really nice job.”; or to host that 10 minute safety meeting out in the field, and open by saying with sincerity: “Guys, thank you all for taking a few minutes to talk about this. I really appreciate everything you’re doing.”

Be Tough, But Fair

This is a true culture of mutual respect. It doesn’t mean you let your employees walk all over you. You’ve got to be tough but fair.

Ultimately, what you’re trying to do is create a culture of pride and loyalty because you are doing something that’s bigger than yourself. It’s a common cause people from all cultures can get behind.

After all, diversity is the strongest foundation for a stellar team; especially when they know you sincerely care about and appreciate them.

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