“How did you manage that?” My friend, Tom, was incredulous.
I explained how it was that, at 67, I was mowing my first lawn. I’m a Pastor’s son. When we lived in parsonages, men from the church took care of our lawn. Other times when I was growing up, we lived in apartments, with no lawn to take care of.
Later, when I was running a company and speaking and consulting, I travelled a lot. When I was home, I wanted to relax. Mowing the lawn was not relaxing and, fortunately, I had the money to pay someone to do it.
After that we lived in places where others took care of the lawns and the plants. Last year we bought our current house, with a third of an acre of grass and plantings. The original plan was to pay someone to do the work.
That turned out to be a bad idea. I wasn’t happy with the work of the various people we hired. I thought it cost more than it should. True confession. We didn’t have much money when I was growing up and as a result I’ve got a strong “value for the dollar” streak. Things came to a head with Jack.
That’s not his real name. Jack has a degree in grass and turf management. He knows what he’s doing. He had a lot of equipment. What he didn’t have was an attitude I liked.
He imagined his job as mowing the lawn and nothing else. I worked with him, because I knew he was young and I thought, maybe, I could help him understand why he kept losing customers.
That ended when I pointed out that a narrow part of the lawn, where his ginormous riding mower wouldn’t fit, needed mowing. Jack told me that it wasn’t part of the “mowable lawn,” and therefore it would cost extra. He was puzzled when I told him we wouldn’t be needing him anymore.
But the lawn still needed mowing. Some research told me that I could buy a top-end self-propelled mower and pay it off with two months of mowing. I bought the mower. Now I had to learn to mow.
I needed a mowing coach. The web was helpful, but not sufficient. I called Mac.
Mac is a young friend who knows how to mow. He mowed the family lawn as a boy. He loves the yard work he does in his own yard, now. And, soon after graduation, he took a temporary job working on the grounds at a country club. He’s also meticulous and likes to do things right.
Mac, now re-christened “Mowing Master Mac,” came over. He asked me questions about what I knew. He showed me the basics of checking and running my mower. He did a turn around part of the yard to show me how to do it. Then he turned me loose.
He praised my effort and every almost-most good move. Every now and then he told or showed me how to do something better. By the time he left, I knew I could do the basics.
Boss’s Bottom Line
If you want to coach your team members consider using Mowing Master Mac as a guide. Ask questions. Demonstrate the right thing. Praise progress and encourage improvement. Let your team member learn by doing, which includes making mistakes.