A Fresh Set of Eyes

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

A talented business owner from Colorado called me the other day with exciting news that he finally hired a long sought-after Landscape Maintenance Manager.  After an arduous five-month search, the business owner’s management team was finally complete!  Eager to get off to an impressive start, the business owner and I discussed the content, importance, and outcomes inherent within a strong managerial onboarding program.

Consistent with tradition, managerial onboarding programs are classically segmented into 30, 60, and 90-day timeframes and shared with the incumbent at the time of hire.  Though commonly known, I shared the following sample of standard onboarding expectations for a field management position:


  1. Learn all company goals, organizational culture components, and strategic KPIs.
  2. Meet all essential staff; schedule ongoing meetings accordingly. 
  3. Study the organizational chart, each team’s responsibilities, and their performance expectations.
  4. Review the Company account map to review current job location geography.
  5. Begin visiting 10 active properties each week and evaluate job quality level.


  1. Fully understand the safety program and attend all weekly tailgate talks.
  2. Understand how gross margin is calculated and how to raise it to desirable levels.  
  3. Has identified low gross margin jobs and has developed a plan achieve gross margin goals.
  4. Review target market, sales matrix, estimating process, and marketing materials.
  5. Understand the details related to:  Labor Tracking, CRM, Revenue Per Man, SOPs, Work Orders.


  1. Complete informal development performance appraisal review of all Foremen.
  2. Prepare materials for attending monthly field operations financial review meeting. 
  3. Develop action plans for each job to ensure contract retention; track progress each month.
  4. Partner with Sales Team to prepare cost estimates, budgets, and timetables for new job site bids.
  5. Revise Job Folders:  Client Profiles, Financial Specifications, Labor hours, Rotation Maps, etc.

Beyond that reflexive litany of activities, I suggested the owner leverage the new Landscape Maintenance Manager’s “fresh set of eyes” by requiring him to submit a Top 10 List of current problems, proposed solutions, and anticipated results to the business owner at the end of each monthly period.  To that point, the capstone of the on-boarding program is the business owner conducting a Performance Review of the new Manager at the end of the three months.

New to the organization, the Manager should be free to make novel, politically-incorrect, and ambitious observations to the owner with complete professional license.  Thus, a capitalistic on-boarding program must hold the new Manager accountable for reviewing, revising, and recommending unique value-added ideas capable of taking the company to the next level.   Much of that value orientation must be coached throughout the on-boarding program.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.