Pulse Meetings

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

[email protected]


A landscaper from New Jersey called me the other day to talk about various issues related to organizational communication.  We all know that it ultimately comes down to communication.  Yet despite that common understanding, miscommunication still occurs, problems result, and productivity is wasted.

At least we agree that communication is important.  

If only we could do it better, right?

While an ardent advocate of over-communication, like many of us I am not a fan of obligatory meetings in that they are frequently aimless, mismanaged, and politically correct.  Yet, given the importance of communication, we must have them.  All that taken as a composite, I have long held the need to have more vertical communication with Foremen in that they are at ground zero:  On the job site overseeing crews performing real work that gets all of us paid.  And yet, most owners do not communicate with them.

At least we agree that communication is important.  Though obviously only for some employees, right?

My conversation with the New Jersey landscaper addressed Pulse Meetings that are typically held monthly with only the owner and the Foremen present; no managers, no supervisors, no filters.  This direct communication forces the often-detached owner to reconnect with the field directly, demonstrate timely appreciation to the Foremen for their contributions, and sustain an ongoing conversation to improve the company culture, productivity, and heaven help us, communication.

When requested, I offered the landscaper a general meeting agenda the owner could modify, use, and replicate based on his/her preference, company norms, and desired communication goals.  Aligned with the Balanced Scorecard business model, here is the basic agenda I offered to the landscaper.

  1. Revenue Issues
    • Ideas or comments to increase enhancements sales
    • Ideas or comments to increase irrigation sales
    • Ideas or comments related to additional services the company should offer to increase revenue
  2. Employee Issues
    • Discuss any employee communication issues (e.g., policies, processes, rumors)
    • Discuss staffing issues, ideas, shortages
    • Discuss any shop, equipment, employee, vehicle, tool-related safety issues
    • Discuss any workers’ compensation issues
    • Discuss any field training needs
    • Discuss any employee disciplinary issues
  3. Process Issues
    • Ways to improve gross margin, labor efficiency, accountability
    • Ways to improve yard departure/arrival in less than 15 minutes
    • Ways to improve production rates
    • Ways to decrease field overtime
    • Any vendor or materials (e.g., quality, delivery, returns) issues
  4. Customer Issues
    • Any jobs at risk
    • Any customer comments made on the job site or during a walk-through
    • Ways to improve job retention
    • Ways to improve job quality
    • Ways to improve our brand image

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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.