Knowledge Transfer to Better Your Business

Knowledge Transfer to Better your Business

According to a study from the Work Institute, the estimated costs of employee turnover ranges from 33% to as much as 200% of the departing employee’s salary. Costs include lost revenue from reduced human resource levels, project delays, accidents, recruiting, training and on-boarding new personnel. The range of cost is affected by the skills and experience (knowledge) lost with the employee. Consider the difference between losing a seasonal employee to the cost of replacing a long-term retiring employee with advanced skills and years of experience with the company and the profession. With the later, the loss to the company is not only an employee but the knowledge that employee provided to the success of the operation.

Understanding that knowledge loss is the major casualty of employee turnover is the first step towards better employee management.

Researchers began studying the impacts of knowledge loss in the early 1990’s. The concern was related to one generation retiring and the knowledge lost as retirements increased. From that research the concept of knowledge transfer developed. Knowledge transfer is a method of sharing information, abilities, and ideas across different areas of your business. It helps capture the knowledge before it leaves the organization and is then used to train replacements, expand service offering and or cross train employees to increase efficiency.

One of the major benefits of a structured knowledge transfer process is uncovering the ‘special sauce’. People who have mastered their job have skills and experience that make them more successful. In addition to having the knowledge, they know when, where, and how to use that knowledge to work effectively…the special sauce.

Googling ‘knowledge transfer’ will give you a whole host of resources, however, the Knowledge Maverick is a free web resource which can assist you with understanding the concept of knowledge transfer and how to implement it within your company. They have developed a series of questions to get you started. The questions were developed to be answered in a conversation between the person with the knowledge, and the person interested in receiving the knowledge. The conversations will help develop more questions and productive discussion. They are also a good framework for employee mentors.

Lastly, there are knowledge transfer professionals that can assist you in developing a transfer system. Because the loss of knowledge within your company represents a large risk to the health of the organization, ArboRisk has created a Knowledge Transfer portion of Thrive to lower this exposure. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the ArboRisk team to learn more.

Written by: Jim Skiera

Driver Training

Driver Training For Tree Care Companies

Let’s face it, one of the largest exposures to risk within your tree care company comes from your trucks being on the road. To lower that risk, you must look at managing your fleet and your drivers, with the latter being perhaps one of the most difficult tasks you face.

In the past we’ve discussed ways to test your drivers before they drive one of your trucks on their own. In case you missed that weekly tip, you can access it here (Driving Tests). The next step after you have a baseline of each driver’s skill is to develop a training program so they can continually improve their skills. A driver training program should be written down and contain clear progress goals that encompass training from both internal and external sources.

Internal Training – Most tree care companies deliver driver training to their employees directly and do so only during their tailgate safety meetings. While this is a great way to provide some training, the tailgate meetings may not always be planned out too far in advance and could miss some crucial driver training topics. So I encourage you to create a more systematic internal training program. Use these questions when developing it.

What driver training topics do you already cover within your tailgate safety meetings?

What are some of the most common near misses that your company has when it comes to operating vehicles?

Who in your company would be proficient in teaching the driver training?

External Training – You most likely will not be able to cover all driving training topics with in-house instructors. This is when you need to look outside of your organization. Including training programs put on by outside vendors offer many benefits to your company and can really help lower your driver exposure. Because there are many different options, use this list of questions to help select the proper training vendors.

What type of driver training topics are your current team members not capable of delivering, but are important to your company (think defensive driving, roadside emergency preparedness, etc.)?

Are there local driving schools in your area?

Can you take your vehicles to use during the class?

Bettering your driver’s skills on the road will help you dramatically reduce injuries and accidents, lower insurance premiums and increase your profits. For help with instituting a driver and fleet management program within your company, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today.

Also, we are hosting a Driver & Fleet Management webinar on October 2nd, 2020 along with Streamside Green and Victorian Gardens. To sign up visit this link. In case you read this after the webinar is over, contact us directly and we can set up a time to discuss this individually.

Written by: Eric Petersen

4 Must’s of Effective Leadership

4 Must’s of Effective Leadership

isIn that last couple of decades, neuroscientists have shown that one of the most important aspects of effective leadership is emotional intelligence. A well-known leader in this research is author Daniel Goleman. Goleman states that one of the most important roles of a leader is helping employees engage in their work, ultimately leading to a satisfying work life balance. A key to unlocking that engagement is emotional intelligence.

Although leadership typically focuses on external pieces; such as employees or the direction of the organization, we first need to focus on ourselves, the leaders. In his book “Primal Leadership”, Goleman discusses the importance of leading your followers with emotional intelligence. Whether we like it or not, there is a direct correlation between the leader’s mood, employee’s moods, and performance. Below are 4 key pieces to effective leadership utilizing emotional intelligence:

1)Know Yourself

As a good leader, your employees will mirror your moods, work ethic, and even decision making. This means that the most important piece of being a good leader is being aware of yourself and your mood. If you, the leader, are upset and communicating poorly, what impact will that have on your employees?

Goleman mentions three things we can do to make sure our mood isn’t negatively impacting our followers.

1.Self-Awareness: What mood are we in? Why are we in this mood?
2.Pausing/Reflecting: What impact does this have on others? Is it beneficial or harmful?
3.Adjust: What mood do we need to be in to lead effectively? How do we adjust?

Though these sound simple and straight forward, building self-awareness into your everyday life will help with more than just building strong work environment.

2)Know Your Employees

Once you’ve got a hold of your own emotions, we can start looking out towards our employees. Think of morale, motivation, and optimism as three good measures for productive employees. Outside of work, how do you make people close to you feel like you understand them? An MIT article mentions 3 ways to help people feel understood:

1.Questions: Asking employees how they feel or what their thoughts are on certain topics is the best place to start.
2.Active Listening: Active listening is the idea of repeating what others say to you without inputting your own ideas to make them feel heard. Disregard your personal opinions at first to make sure you’re really understanding how they feel.
3.Perspective: It is important to understand where your employees are coming from in their perspective, not yours as the foreman, manager, or even owner. This will help you work towards a solution much more efficiently.

3)Know Your Organization

Organizations are constantly shifting, often times based on the needs and preferences of their employees. An effective leader should be able to adapt to the culture of the organization as it grows. One important distinction is understanding that there may be different cultures in different departments, each requiring a different style of leadership. I’d challenge you to assess your company culture as a whole, at a department level, and potentially at the level of each crew. This should help identify who your core leaders are, and what type of leadership they need to utilize in each role. Below are some questions to help you get started:

1.What is the organization most known for?
2.What is the organization best at?
3.Where is the organization headed?
4.Who is in charge of getting it there?

 If you need help addressing culture concerns, take ArboRisk’s culture assessment! This assessment can give you a baseline for where your culture is at and you will receive a FREE one page summary of your results!

4)Create a Vision

Effective leadership, and effective organizations for that matter, all require leaders and their employees to work towards a common vision. A clear vision. It is the leader’s responsibility to ensure everyone has a positive outlook on the organization’s vision, creating a positive work environment. The leader should be able to understand bottlenecks arising out of working towards the vision, listen to the employee concerns, and come up with creative ways to work around those issues ultimately keeping the organization on track. This is usually done with the following:

1.Delegating: This is where creativity can come in. Who is best at specific tasks? Who enjoys specific tasks to ensure they’ll be done proficiently?
2.Goal Setting: Visions are long term, goals are short term items that help work towards completing the vision. How can you utilize goals to help motivate your crews?
3.Coaching: “Success is in the journey, not the destination.” Utilize working towards the vision as a way to help your crews grow and learn.

The organization has its goal, but so does each employee. Most people want growth, some want money, others want education. Learn what drives your employees and build that into your overarching goal.

How important are leaders within your organization as it stands? I’d argue leaders are the engines that drive an organization towards its future goals.
A strong company recognizes the need for effective leadership within their organization and utilizes leadership to motivate employees to work harder, smarter, and more efficiently. I’d encourage you to check out some of Daniel Goleman’s work, but there are plenty of resources discussing effective leadership on YouTube as well. This process will hopefully help not only with achieving your company vision, but building a strong company culture along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions!

Primal Leadership, Written by Daniel Goleman

Written by: Malcolm Jeffris, CTSP

Plant Health Care Safety Tips

Plant Health Care Safety Tips

It is always important to wear your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), however, working with chemicals in Plant Health Care (PHC), is another story. As a tree care owner, you must make sure your PHC team takes PPE’s seriously. Here are some helpful safety tips to pass onto your PHC team.

Change of Clothes Keep at least one change of clothes in the vehicle. A change of clothes can make a difference in having to wear the original clothing/shoes that you may have spilled chemicals on during the course of the day home. Place your change of clothing in a sealed plastic bag, when it is time to go home put your chemical residue clothing in the bag and wear the clean clothing/shoes home. Remember to wash your hands after touching your chemical residue clothing. Also wash your chemical residue clothing by itself, do not mix wash your chemical residue clothing with your spouse or children’s clothing.

Gloves – It is imperative, that you wear chemical resistant gloves. When you take them off be sure to wash your hands (a disinfectant wipe can be used for this if in the field). If you don’t wash your hands, popping a candy in your mouth, smoking a cigarette, eating lunch, etc. becomes a game of Russian Roulette – what chemical am I going to taste today. Above all after washing your hands, do not touch your clothing again. Clean your gloves every night – you don’t want to put the gloves on with chemicals from the day before on them. Make sure your gloves go up to at least mid-forearm. If a chemical spills and reaches over the top of the gloves – change your shirt.

Long Sleeve Shirt and Pants – Simply put wearing a long sleeve shirt and pants will protect you from chemical burns on your skin. However, those clothes must be changed right away if you spill any chemical onto your clothes, as the chemical will soak into the fabric and then your skin.

Safety Goggles and Helmet – No one wants to lose their vision due to a chemical splash. So wearing googles are another must wear when working with chemicals. Ensure they fit tightly around your eyes. Your safety helmets also is important in protecting your scalp from the chemical and from blunt trauma that may happen with a broken hose or a slip and fall on a hard surface.

Rubber Boots – Wearing rubber boots and keeping them for only plant health care work is smart. Your feet walk through the mist from spraying and they get chemicals spilled on them. Make sure they do not have any leaks. It is a good idea to take them off without using your hands – try to buy them the right size so you can slip them off.

Disinfectant Wipes – Since chemicals can be transferred to any surface that you touch, utilize disinfectant wipes while in the field and make note of any areas that need a thorough cleaning when you get back to the shop. It is a good idea to bring your lunch in metal container, that way you are sure that no chemicals are touching your food in transport. Wipe down the steering wheel and seats of your truck before you touch anything with your hands. Everything that you touch with your gloves on, or from spills gets contaminated with residue from the chemicals.

If we have learned just one thing from COVID19, it is that it is very difficult not to touch your face or other parts of your body – remember that everything you touch could be contaminated by chemicals – WIPE THE SURFACES DOWN WITH A DISINFECTANT WIPE!

These are just small ideas to think about when working with chemicals – sometimes they do not receive the warnings that they deserve. Whatever chemicals you are working with just be safe about it – think through all the scenarios that might come up during the day where you could have contaminated yourself. Maybe have a group safety meeting and think of all the ways that chemicals can contaminate your workspace. If you do not have anyone working with you, think about the chemical contacts you do during the course of the workday and how you can possibly do better in the future controlling the chemical contaminants.

Above all – be safe!

Written by: Dawn Thierbach

Driving Tests for Tree Care Companies

Driving Tests for Tree Care Companies

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

For many arborists, one of the largest draws to the tree care world is getting the chance to operate any of the specialized trucks that are utilized within the industry. From dump trucks to bucket trucks to grapple trucks, tree services usually have some unique vehicles in their fleet, but they all come with hefty price tags. So why don’t more tree services employ a driving test before allowing employees to take their mortgage-sized vehicles out to the job site? I think the simple answer is they don’t know how to structure a driving test. 

Prior to allowing an employee to drive a company vehicle, we strongly recommend having that employee complete a driving test. There is no perfect driving test out there, but here are the steps to building an effective test.

Determine the vehicle(s) used for the test – Most tree care companies have an assortment of different vehicles. We recommend that each driver passes a driving test for each type of vehicle that they can drive.

Designate a current team member(s) to facilitate the test – This team member must have obviously shown proficiency in operating the type of vehicle that will be used during the test and have an understanding of what to look for to approve a new driver.

Decide on what components you want to incorporate into your test – Driving tests should include a number of skills to properly verify the knowledge and skill level of the driver. At minimum a test should include: pre-trip inspection, starting, stopping, turning both directions, backing up and parking, etc. however, you may also want to include trailer attachment and/or permanently attached equipment operation (aerial lift, dump body, etc.).

Determine a safe route for the driving test – You most likely will not have enough room in your yard to do a full driving test, so search out an area or route close to your shop to perform the test. Consider the components that you will be testing for when selecting your route.

Create a checklist or sign off sheet for the facilitator to complete during the test – Obviously you will need to have some written proof of what was discovered during the driving test. Create a simple checklist for the facilitator to use and reference afterwards in making recommendations for additional training for the employee.

For more help in creating a driver test, reach out to an ArboRisk team member to get signed up for Thrive.