Where do we spend most of our time, and with who? As much as we would like to spend most of our time with our family and friends--that's rarely true.
Most of us spend at least 40 hours each week at work. That’s 8 hours every day. Factor in morning prep time, your commutes, eating and sleeping--and you realize the people you spend the most time with every week is actually your coworkers.
It’s an old saying that if you enjoy the people you work with, you’ll actually have a more positive outlook towards your job than if you love your tasks but hate your coworkers. This is exactly why it’s so important to keep up a good work environment and morale.
So what does that mean if you’re the owner of a tree service company? And if you’re an employee? There are things that everyone can be doing to keep everyone in their team excited about getting up and coming back to work every morning. There are things that can be done to keep EVERY player of the team motivated, therefore seeing growth personally and for the company. And lastly, when everyone is happy, it’s easier to stay focused, productive, and safe!
Let’s break down exactly how you can create that workplace, no matter what your position on the crew!
For the owner / foreman:
Pay attention to your demeanor, emotions, and body language. All of these things play a role in how others read you and respond. If you’re running your crew, they will look to you for guidance and leadership. Start the morning off POSITIVE. Even if it’s going to be a rough day, the weather is less than perfect, or you personally have some issues going on--try your best to put on a smile and a “we can do this!” attitude.
For the employee:
Depending on how big the company is you work, or there may be a handful to a couple hundred other employees coming together for the day. More than likely you will be working closely with just a handful of those people on your personal crew. As you approach the job site in the morning, try to set any personal drama to the side. Also remember that everyone has their own problems they are dealing with-so always remember to treat others like you'd prefer to be treated.
For the owner / foreman:
As stated above. YOU are the leader of this emotional environment and if you want to keep your crew motivated, you have to GIVE them reasons to be motivated.
What’s free? Positive reinforcement. Yep, sometimes a raise feels good, but there's only so much operational capital. Calling attention to when someone did a great job will help them make a mental note of the behavior that’s appreciated and rewarded--and they’ll do it again. Who doesn’t like to be told they’re doing a great job? This important communication will let others know they are valued, even if they are low in the ranks. This positive reinforcement can help crew members improve and expand your business--because you can't do everything alone.
When you give positive reinforcement and educational resources, you get rewarded back. Money can be a very persuasive way to get people to learn, and it's a very fair exchange. When your employee receives their CDL, Certified Arborist, Pesticide Applicator’s License, etc. they become more valuable to the crew, which brings more value to the company, which in return gives the customers more value, and MORE happy customers equals more jobs, which allows for a raise. Be willing to give in order to get. Encourage growth, encourage education, encourage them to see the possibilities they possess and how greatly appreciated and applauded that they will be and convincing them to grow for themselves instead of for your business won’t be hard.
For the employee:
No matter what crew you are on, who you work for, or where you are in life--knowledge, new skill sets, and experiences can never be taken away from you. Everything you take in will help you grow in and out of work. If you are part of a progressive company, embrace any and all options they give you to advance or grow. If you’re currently part of a crew that is not entirely supportive of growing past their comfort level, take the time to educate yourself first so you can then explain to them WHY these new skill sets, certifications, or techniques will benefit not just you, but everyone!
Why put this section together? Well, because staying safe is NOT a one person job in tree work. Tree work is THE most dangerous job in the world.
Let’s say that one more time- what you do every day is THE MOST DANGEROUS JOB IN THE WORLD. Why? Well… there are MANY factors. Bad work practices, lack of PPE, poor communication, the list goes on and on.
What is important to note is your crew can end or save your life. Have you ever been in a situation with someone you don’t like? Is your first priority to watch out for their safety? In our line of work it HAS to be, so let’s encourage ways to communicate and support each other. Just remember, if we get hurt and we're up in a tree, we more than likely are going to have to rely on someone on our crew to help us, or possibly even save our lives. If I were hurt I would want someone trying as hard as they could to save me. And the more they liked me, the harder they would try to keep me alive, so keeping up a good relationship with your crew is literally life or death in this industry.
I hope these tips have encouraged you to go back to work, regardless of your position and see your job in a new light. What things might you be able to change or add into your daily routine to get people excited about their job again? Think about it- we get to CLIMB trees for a living! That’s what every child dreams of- so keep the dream alive and make your workplace the BEST that it can be for yourself and for others!