Cultivate your company

By Tom Borg

Create a work environment that attracts high-performing employees.


A short time ago, a business owner was venting his frustration to me on how hard it was to find and retain good people to work for his green industry company. His company paid excellent wages to front-line employees, and his foremen received excellent salaries, benefits and bonuses. On paper it was a great place to work, but it wasn’t the right kind of culture.

In many ways, he was doing the same things that his competition was doing. His competitors were also complaining and frustrated about the difficulty of finding and retaining good people. Of course, many of them advertised for help in the same places like Craigslist, Beyond and other employment websites. Many of them had the same weak onboarding practices. Many of them avoided having regular meetings because they turned into “complaint sessions.” And, many of them had the belief that the problem was with the people they hired and not with owners and leaders of their company. As a result, they didn’t have the right kind of culture to find and retain the right people.

I shared with him that maybe it would be helpful to initiate some strategies to change the company culture. Like the saying goes, “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done — you will get less of what you always got.” In other words, if you keep using the same approach that is delivering minimal results, rather than creating the kind of company culture you want and need, you will find it harder and harder to get the results you want and need to run a successful company.

From the top

One of the first places I begin with my clients to solve this dilemma is examining the type of communication that is taking place within the company. Research shows that clear and ongoing communication remains the number one challenge businesses face today. Let’s face it, if you don’t have the right communication tools in place, good communication can be difficult.

As the late business guru, Peter Drucker, taught us, “The purpose of a business is to attract and keep good customers.” Before you can do that, you must be able to attract and keep the right leadership team and employees. Neither of these are possible unless you have good communication with your team, and in turn, they have good communication with your clients and customers.

No business owner in their right mind sets out to have poor communication practices in place. It just happens. People are different. They have different behavioral styles and expectations of how communication should take place.

One thing to take from author and speaker Tony Alessandra’s Platinum Rule, “Treat other people the way they want to be treated,” is to communicate with other people the way they want to be communicated with.

When I help my clients change their company culture, I often start with the use of assessment instruments that help measure the level of communication, behaviors, motivation and emotional intelligence within the ownership and leadership team.

Core cultural values

Once that is completed, they can begin to get a more accurate picture of where they are and what needs to happen to create the right kind of company culture. The sooner the right kind of culture is in place, the sooner the leaders of the company can retain and attract the right kind of people. Then, you can attract and retain the right kind of clients and customers.

What would the right kind of culture look like in your green industry company? While only you and your team can decide for sure, here are a few ingredients that should be present:

  • honesty
  • transparency
  • willingness to help each other
  • connectedness
  • sincere care for co-workers
  • a company vision created by and maintained by all employees
  • a feeling of worth and contribution to the overall company goals
  • accountability
  • fairness
  • appreciation for a job well done
  • a company mindset to do the right things because they are right

The late Fred Rogers, who in his role as Mister Rogers influenced millions and millions of children to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their personal values, made a lasting mark on most children and adults who heard his message. One of his quotes went like this, “The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile.”

How do you give and reinforce the feeling to your people that they are worthwhile and that they truly matter in contributing to the vision of the company they are part of? When you can do this on a regular basis, you are building a company culture that will attract and retain the right kind of people.

Let’s take this concept of retaining the right people a step further. When you create a company environment that people want to be a part of, you are on your way to making it a reality.

Once people are hired, what kind of an onboarding process do you have in place? This is a critical factor in keeping good people. Do you have a plan that is properly and regularly implemented to ensure that a new hire’s first 30 days are a positive experience? Many companies use a buddy system. That is where a new hire is assigned to another team member who can help them navigate the ins and outs of their new position.

Next on the list, do you have a career ladder that is clearly explained to your new team members at the time of their hiring, and when you do their regular appraisals? Remember when we mentioned the importance of your team members knowing that they are part of a company with a vision for the future? They need to know where they fit into that future. What positions can they prepare for as they remain and grow with your organization?

If this sounds more than you can handle, get a little help. Hire a business consultant or coach to help you implement these ideas. The results will more than pay for your investment.

Here is my suggested action plan for you to follow:

  • Continually work on creating the right kind of communication within your organization.
  • Add the correct ingredients from the previously suggested list to build the right culture.
  • Continually reinforce to your people that they are worthwhile.
  • Review and upgrade your onboarding strategy.
  • Create or review and update the career ladder for your team members. Make sure to communicate it to them on a regular basis.

When you create the right kind of culture you will attract and retain the right kind of team members. Once that happens, you will consistently attract and retain the right kind of clients.


Tom Borg is a team performance and customer experience expert who works with green industry organizations and their leadership teams to help them connect, communicate and work together better without all the drama through his consulting, training, coaching, leadership instruments and job benchmarking tools. To ask him a question, please call 734.404.5909, email tom@tomborg.com or visit his website at: www.tomborgconsulting.com.