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The Three Most Important Words in an Interview: Tell Me More

The three most important words in an interview: Tell me more

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

We all know how much hiring the wrong person hurts your organization, yet most tree care companies are not good at screening potential employees during an interview. The reasoning is pretty obvious, besides feeling the pressure of needing more employees on a daily basis, interviewing can be an arduous task and one that many tree care companies don’t practice and therefore are not very skilled in.

So how do you know what to ask and more importantly, how do you know if the prospective employee is telling you the truth or just what you want to hear? Many times it is difficult to decipher, but the most powerful interview tip that I’ve learned over the years is to use a simple three word phrase…

“Tell me more.”

One of the most common traps an interviewer falls into is talking too much instead of getting the prospective employee to open up. There are many reasons why this happens, but even when the interviewer applies conscious thought on not talking too much during the interview it still doesn’t always prevent it. This is why I love the “tell me more” phrase. It intentionally takes the spotlight from the interviewer and directs it at the interviewee.

This tactic is used similarly to digging deeper when on a sales call. I recently wrote an article about how to get down to the root reason or decision-making motivation when on a sales call by asking “why” three times. To read that article click here. Employ the “tell me more” phrase three times to any important interview question and you’ll gain a tremendous amount of insight about your prospective employee.

Let’s walk through an example…

Interviewer: “I see you have worked at three different tree care companies in the past, tell me more about those experiences.”

The Interviewee will typically answer with a simple statement without much substance like; “the other companies weren’t a fit for me.” The Interviewer should follow up this bland statement with the following.

Interviewer: “Tell me more about why they weren’t a fit for you. Start with the company you currently are working for.”

The Interviewee now has to actually answer the question and you’ll get an initial glimpse into that person’s personality and what they value from an employer. Still, there probably is much more to uncover so the interviewer should try to go deeper. 

Interviewer: “You mentioned that you didn’t see a chance at advancing with your old company, tell me more why that is important to you.”

Now on the third “tell me more” the interviewee has to open up about their feelings on whatever topic you have gone down and the interviewer will receive real information to help in the hiring decision.

I suggest you do this with 3 or 4 questions on every interview so you actually get in-depth answers. From there it should be fairly easy to see which prospective employee will fit with your company culture and which one(s) won’t.

For more help with your interview format and overall hiring process sign up for ArboRisk’s Thrive Hiring and Recruiting Package to work one-on-one with our team of experts.

Tom Dunn

Risk Management Concerns When Hiring Minors

Risk Management Concerns When Hiring Minors

Written by Ryan Watry

In my daily conversations with tree care companies, finding good employees seems to be the number one issue they face.  Sometimes the solution to that problem is hiring a minor to help.  Hiring someone under the age of 18 does create some different risks and needs than hiring an adult.  Here are three areas to be aware of when considering hiring a minor.

1. State Specific – Each state will have a similar but specific view on the regulations surrounding employing minors. Start by contacting your state’s Department of Workforce Development to find out specific restrictions that may apply.  For example in Wisconsin, tree work is considered hazardous employment.  This means that a minor can not operate machinery including chippers, skid steers, chainsaws, etc..  They are permitted to work on a ground crew, cleaning up and dragging brush.  You also should ask about other employment guidelines such as, the number of hours they may work and if they need a work permit.

2. General Liability & Business Auto Insurance – Depending on your insurance carrier there may be restrictions in your general liability and/or business auto policies that restrict what a person under a certain age can do and what vehicles, if any, they are allowed to drive.   Many insurance companies do not want anyone under the age of 21 to drive for your company. So it is important to check with your agent to see if there are any restrictions on employees under 18. If you are struggling with young driver eligibility, creating a driver management program within your company will help. Check out this article which talks specifically about creating a driver management program. 

3. Workers’ Compensation – Workers compensation insurance will cover any employee regardless of age.  However, there are different benefits added in for someone under 18 who gets hurt.  Again, these benefits differ from state to state, so we recommend checking with your insurance agent on your state’s specifics.  In Wisconsin, if an employee under the age of 18 sustains an injury that results in a partial or permanent disability, the lost wages (or indemnity portion of the claim) paid out will be triple what they would normally be for someone over 18.  Also you can be fined by the state and OSHA if it is found that the minor employee was operating equipment they were not permitted to.  

After researching each of these three areas, you will be able to determine if hiring a minor is right for your business.  Who knows this, may lead a young person down a career path in this exciting industry.

For more specific help on hiring and recruiting, reach out to an ArboRisk team member to discuss our Thrive Hiring & Recruiting Package or the Leadership Development Package today.

Tom Dunn

Outlining a Career Path for Your Team

Outlining a Career Path for Your Team

Written by Kevin Martlage

I ran across a Chinese proverb the other day that made me think about the importance of creating a nurturing and supportive work environment for your team. An environment that allows them to not only be successful but helps them intentionally and transparently identify their professional career goals while having the proper support to obtain them. The Chinese Proverb goes like this, 

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” 

You may be asking yourself, what does that have to do with a supportive work environment and specifically why having a career path for your team is important? The answer to that lies within the true meaning, in my opinion, of this proverb and how you can support your team through career development.

As professionals in the tree care industry, we are certainly able to outline and discuss the importance of a healthy green infrastructure and specifically the role a healthy canopy and each tree within that canopy. Similarly, we also know the various stages of how a tree grows and develops over time. Everything from how the seed is planted and germinates below ground with the radicle (primary root) and the plumule emerging from that seed to the seedling stage and sapling stage which leads to the Heartwood, Xylem, Phloem, outer bark, and eventually each individual branch and leaf. Without each of those stages developing in a specific order, a tree would not exist and therefore would not be a sustainable part of the ecosystem and canopy. How a tree is planted, nurtured, and developed over time is important to how that tree ultimately survives and becomes an integral part of the ecosystem which is so very important to all of us. 

With that in mind, I challenge you to think of your organization and your team as a tree that needs to be planted, nurtured, and grown over time. Specifically, think of each of your employees as an integral part of your organizational ‘canopy’ which requires the various ‘trees’, your employees, to be highly functioning and productive as you provide your service to the ‘ecosystem’ of the industry. Without a strong workforce, who is highly motivated, supported, safe, trustworthy, and strategic you will find your overall long term sustainable success to be far more challenging than it should be. A specific and detailed career path can help to attract higher quality employees, keep your current employees engaged, and set your organization apart from the competition as a highly supportive place of business that employees want to work for. 

Career paths can take many different forms regarding what they provide your employees. The number one goal in creating a career path is that it is aligned with the goals of your organization while allowing for the individual and collective growth and development of your team. 

 

When beginning to develop your employee career path, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • What do your employees want and need from their careers (i.e., goals and desires)?
  • What can the workforce provide to your organization to be successful (i.e., needed skills)?
  • Can the developed career path be easily supported by you and your leadership team?
  • How will it be communicated to the team and kept alive once in place?

Once you have strategically determined the answers above, it is time to develop the career path for your employees and your organization. To do this, I challenge you to think about the developmental stages of a tree once again. The career path should start from the seed being planted (the hiring of a new employee) to the ‘leaves’ that are produced as that employee continues to grow within your organization. 

An example of a career path might be the following:

  • Planting the seed: Day 1
    • New Employee is hired
  • Seed Germination : Week 1
    • Radicle forms (downward) 
      • On-boarding – new hire paperwork
    • Plumule forms (towards surface)
      • On-boarding – organizational background 
      • On-boarding – team introductions
  • Seedling Stage: First 30 days 
    • Seedling forms
      • Specific on-the-job training identified
      • Specific on-the-job training provided
  • Sapling Stage: First 3 months
    • Root development
      • Mentor identified and introduced 
    • Trunk development
      • Bi-weekly mentor/supervisor meetings 
      • On the job training continues
  • Growth Stage: 2-6 months
    • Heartwood development
      • Identify and document career goals 
    • Xylem, Cambium, Phloem
      • Create a career development action plan  
    • Outer Bark development
      • Review progress to date
      • Identify opportunities for additional training
  • Nurturing Stage: 6 months +
    • Watering
      • Conduct quarterly performance meetings
    • Pruning
      • Review career action plan annually and update
      • Provide opportunities for outside certification(s)
      • Provide opportunities for external training
    • Transplanting (as needed)
      • Support internal career advancement
      • Support external career advancement

The development, communication, and support of a detailed career path for your employees is equally important to your organization’s success as your strategic plan, financial maintenance, and client acquisition. In fact, I would argue that it might be even more important as you continue to grow your organization. The proper on boarding, development, support, and nurturing of your employees will enhance your overall team culture while ensuring that your team is firmly planted in your organization for many years to come. The time to develop that career path is now. This will allow you to look back in 20 years as you enjoy the benefits of a healthy team that has helped grow your organization and provide a valuable service to your clients and the industry. 

If you struggle with the hiring process, contact an ArboRisk team member today! Our Thrive Risk Management Hiring & Recruiting Package and team of experts will help you one-on-one to create the career path that works for your organization.

5 Secrets to Better Employees

5 Secrets to Better Employees

Written by Joseph Toppi

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” – Richard Branson 

Want better employees? Of course you do! Nearly every company – no matter what the industry they are in – is searching for better employees to add to their team, to grow and sustain their company. They seem to never be able to find employees that can last, so they end up in this constant state of churn. 

Why? I think there are many reasons, but the underlying issue to all of the reasons is the employer. It is the hiring process, more specifically, the way the employer manages the hiring process when looking for employees. The system of hiring on skill and experience, then throwing monetary incentives to keep them is an archaic way that has lost its effectiveness some time ago. That is a system that has been proven to be nothing more than costly! 

These 5 secrets saved my companies from utter employee disaster, and allowed me to start making better employee choices and retain them longer. 

#1. Hire Based On Core Values 

In 2013, I went through a major hiring time. I hired around 50 men and women, and only retained three or four. At that time, I didn’t know why I was having so much trouble. I was hiring the most skilled, paying them above normal, and treated them very well. Still, they were not performing, and I was losing money through hiring, training, poor workmanship, and replacing. 

As I sat down to reflect on what was going on, I realized I was missing the important things I should have been hiring on – core values. 

I was trying to hire based on skill in a time when all the skilled employees were already hired. The way I was filtering my potential hires was the issue. I was looking for skill, but putting no weight on honesty, reliable, integrity, etc. If you start your hiring process by looking for those that possess the core values of your company, you can train the skill. When hiring, we want to train them in our company’s way, anyway, so why hire based on something you are going to change in them? 

 

#2. Set Clear Expectations 

When employers fail to set clear expectations of their employees from day one, the employer is setting the employee up to fail.

Too many times, the employers will give a rough outline of what the company does, and sometimes even varying deadlines, but nothing that the employee can hold themselves accountable to. Nothing the employee can be weighed against to determine if they are doing a good job or not. The worst part is, the employer ends up getting frustrated and angry at the employee, because they are not living up to the expectations the employer has!

When hiring your employees, prepare a clear set of company rules and behavioral expectations, and go over them with the new employee on Day One. As well, at the start of any tasks or projects, make sure you have production, quality, and timeline expectations set. Employees prefer this, as it provides them structure and a way to know if they are doing a good job or not. 

 

#3. Be Quick To Invest In Your Employees 

Many times, employers are afraid to invest in developing their employees because of fear. Fear that the employees will leave them for another company. Fear that employees will leave and start their own company. Just a fear that they will waste their money. This holds so many companies back from having absolutely exceptional employees, and holds so many employees back from being truly invested and caring about the company. 

When a company invests in their employees, the employees feel like they are valued, and in turn the employees will naturally want to work harder for that company. It is important to invest in training – company specific training, industry training, and personal development. Training employees goes a long way in their abilities on and off the job site.The opposite is also true – when a company refuses to invest in their employees, the employees feel unvalued, and this is when trouble starts. 

Finally, trust in your employees. Ever feel like all you are doing is putting out fires, and most of them are little things that you think your employees are more than capable of handling? They probably are, but somewhere down the line, you showed them a lack of trust and it is coming to a head. Quit being the firefighter, and start being the fire chief! 

Not investing into employees because of the fear of losing them holds so many companies back from having absolutely exceptional employees, and holds so many employees back from being truly invested and caring about the company.

 

#4. Recognize & Praise 

Why is it that employers think that money is ALL that is important to employees? I have heard employers complain so many times how they were overpaying an employee and gave them so many bonuses and benefits, and the employee still moved on. They are confused as to why. When I ask how they treated the employee, they would answer in a monetary way – “I treated them good, I paid them well.” 

What I have found is that employees – people – just want to feel appreciated. They want recognition and praise for the things they do and accomplish. Too many times, though, employers don’t recognize and praise, but rather criticize and belittle. 

Start recognizing your employees – not with money, but recognize the things they do well – recognize their value, recognize their accomplishments (both at work and personally)! Do the little things – parties, BBQ, lunch, in-house awards. Praise should be given quickly after an accomplishment, it should be personal, outlined in detail, and relevant at the time.

 

#5. Be Quick To Nurture, Not Fire 

How many times have you fired someone without giving them the opportunity to correct their attitude, behavior, or whatever it was that caused you to fire them in the first place? As well, how many times have you fired someone without at least showing them what it was that went wrong, and invested a bit of time with them to show them the right way?

Be quick to invest the time and energy into building up your employees. Don’t get me wrong, there are those people that you hire foolishly, and you know that no matter what you do, they are still going to be trouble. With the rest, you have the opportunity to not fire them, but nurture them into the best version of themselves. 

 

Hiring the right way is just as important as hiring the right person. As an employer, you are responsible for the people you hire, the culture you create, and the community they are all a part of. When you hire and maintain employees as discussed above, you will create employees that will work for you, your vision, and towards your mission. If you struggle with the hiring process, contact an ArboRisk team member today! Our Thrive Risk Management Hiring & Recruiting Package can help address your hiring woes and take your company to new heights!

Who Is Your Recruiting Champion?

Who Is Your Recruiting Champion?

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Almost every tree service owner has a difficult time finding new employees, yet most don’t actually do anything to improve their recruiting situation. But that’s not because they are lazy, no, it’s quite the opposite, something always comes up that takes the owner’s time and attention away from recruiting efforts. Because of this, every tree care company needs to designate a Recruiting Champion within their organization. 

What is a Recruiting Champion? This is the person who takes responsibility for recruiting new employees to your company. They have the authority and dedicated budget to spend a certain amount of their time on recruiting activities. This position can be filled by anyone within the organization, however for the position to be successful there has to be clear expectations of what the specific roles that the Recruiting Champion must fulfill. 

There are three main roles the Recruiting Champion must accomplish within your tree care company. 

  1. Understands the staffing needs – The Recruiting Champion must be involved in strategic planning of the company to understand where the company is headed and therefore anticipate what the staffing needs will be in the future. Planning for the upcoming busy season is the most immediate need that the Recruiting Champion should consider. How many people do we need in the next 6 months to hit our growth goals? You also should paint a broader picture for the Recruiting Champion as to what the company will look like in 3 – 5 years so they can help with the potential development of current employees or the need to hire for different skill sets in the future. 
  2. Creates and executes the recruitment strategy – Creating a recruitment strategy consists of identifying what your target employee looks like (the profile of characteristics, not physical looks) and learning where they interact so you can be present and offer career opportunities to them. Developing a visual Career Path is an essential part of the recruitment strategy so when you do get an interested employee you can show them how they are able to have a lengthy career within your organization. The Recruiting Champion is also responsible for attending the career fairs and hiring events that were identified in the strategy.
  3. Screens and helps on interviews – The Recruiting Champion should not be responsible for all of the hiring activities, but they should be involved in the screening and initial interviews for potential employees. This will help them gain a better understanding of the recruiting efforts that they have embarked upon and how they can adjust the strategy to improve their results. You have to be careful of bias that the Recruiting Champion may impose upon their preferred candidates and therefore be part of the hiring team and not the only one performing the hiring process. 

Remember that recruiting activities do not produce immediate results, however, we all know what you’ll get if you don’t start doing it. After you identify a Recruiting Champion within your company, start by dedicating just 5% of their time to recruiting activities. That equates to ½ of a day for every two weeks worked. Trust me, even that small amount of time will return great dividends in your recruiting efforts. 

If you are struggling with recruiting new employees and want help creating a Recruiting Champion within your company, sign up for our Thrive Hiring & Recruiting package today or contact an ArboRisk team member to learn more!