Hitting the 3 C’s of employee management
December 10, 2019 By Bob Wiggins
When managing employees in a commercial greenhouse, always think of the “3 C’s”: communication, coordination and completion.
Clear communication within the greenhouse is required between all levels of staff. Management communicates priorities and directives to the operational teams, who then relay required tasks to employees on the frontline. In turn, staff need to convey operational updates back up the chain. Effective communication doesn’t end when the transmitter sends a message; it requires that the recipient receives, understands and retains the information.
Verbal communication will always be a part of working in the greenhouse. But while face-to-face interaction forms an effective means of conveying simple tasks with urgency, it can be less effective for more complicated matters fraught with important details. Verbal communication also leaves no record or traceability of the information conveyed.
For example, it’s one thing for a scout to tell management that they’ve found a particular pest on some of the plants in a particular zone, but unless the information is recorded, the IPM team will have no way of tracking trends or efficacy of product applications. Taking and storing a photograph of a new pest could enable the team to look it up and identify it.
Coordination is central to good management, ensuring team members complete required tasks in the most efficient way possible while enhancing the efforts of other team members.
For instance, if the IPM team applies beneficial insects just before the grow team trims or de-leafs the plants, many of the beneficials would be removed and discarded with plant waste. The company will have lost money in insect costs, and greatly reduced the level of protection from them.Verbal communication and white boards are only partially effective. You need a system for tracking and coordinating activity, taking into account that staff are busy and on the move, and that problems and opportunities can arise on the fly.
Completion is always the end goal. The only way a business stays in business is by completing critical tasks that generate profit.
Nothing is more frustrating to a manager than having to ask multiple times if a necessary task has been completed. And nothing is more frustrating to a team member than being asked again and again if they have completed a requested task.
Having a record of critical errands, the person responsible for completing them, and evidence that they have in fact been completed, are all important for accountability (and sanity).
Equipment maintenance is a great example of this. Greenhouses typically have expensive, machinery that requires regular upkeep. Establishing a schedule for routine maintenance, delegating responsibility to each team member, providing useful task reminders for upcoming activities and having a record of task completion can prevent breakdowns and downtime.
The Benefits of Software
Software can never replace verbal communication in a greenhouse, but it can help. Modern greenhouse software is similar to an automated checklist that is available to everyone in the greenhouse and is continually updated in real time.
A robust software with a well-developed task management system will help ensure that all critical information is communicated to those who need it, valuable information is retained in a database for future use (including photographs and critical notes), activities among teams and team members are coordinated, and the completion of critical tasks is accounted for.
Bob Wiggins is CEO of RedBud SoftWare, Inc., redbudsaas.com
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