It’s Harvester Bill and Jay Murray talking about the LS Training System this week. They just finished an awesome round of golf in San Diego. Hey, where’s Harvester Ed? Hmm, probably shoveling snow back on the East Coast!

In the video, they are talking about the importance of training. Before you begin – the question is, what result do you want to achieve from your training program?

Watch this brief clip as they talk about the most important areas that should be included in a program.

At the end of the video, there’s a sample training program, compliments of the Harvesters. There is also a link to Jay’s website. Check it out! If you want to contact Jay directly, his email is included as well.

Email Jay at Landscape Safety

Ed Laflamme LIC

started his own business from scratch, built it up, sold it and then wrote a book about how he did it. So, he’s been there. He understands your frustrations, worries and concerns. Some of you may want to buy companies, while others may want to sell the one you own. You need expert assessment and guidance before you can move forward. Ed has experience in this area. He is recognized as a CLP: Certified Landscape Professional. Read Ed's full bio.


Training should not begin until your people (both existing and new hires) have been evaluated as to their attitudes and domestic situations. Weeding out the bad apples early is essential. In my experience there are people who simply are not trainable-they arrive at the job or interview with attitudes, recent domestic issues, substance abuse and even their ride to work that has placed a “red cloud” in their field of vision. No amount of training will change them for the better so cut them loose and keep looking.

Hello John,

Thanks for the comment.

You make several interesting points. Let me try to address some of them from my human resources’ perspective.

First off, I completely understand your points of view, and readily acknowledge the frustration that you and hundreds of other landscapers experience regarding ongoing employee issues (e.g., lack of work ethic, entitlement, inaccuracy). I simply do not want you to do something that can accelerate those unfortunate situations into personal, professional, or financial disasters, based extensively on the terms, rationale, or statements you make. Please be careful. Every day.

To that point, in very general terms, please be careful of identifying “red cloud” issues that may be indicative of illegal discrimination during the selection process. For example, it is illegal to discriminate against someone who has a history of drug use in that such a condition is covered by the ADA. Rather, it is in your best interest to have a sound pre-employment, post-accident/injury, and reasonable suspicion drug testing program which provides you with legitimate legal coverage.

Along those same lines, please be cautious regarding other listed items (e.g., attitude, domestic issues) that may become more costly than the employee him/herself. To be clear, I am not advocating that those types of candidates must be hired.

I am only suggesting that you evaluate the candidates consistently solely on job-related qualities (e.g., customer service, horticulture knowledge, team work, safety, equipment operation), and not rely on the subjective elements that may provoke victim-thinking on behalf of the candidate which could invite a lawsuit against your company. Be careful with the questions you ask, the feedback you provide, and the decisions you make.

Moving to the topic of employee retention. I whole heartedly agree with ongoing employee performance reviews to “weed out bad apples” (which actually starts at the interview process). That point being said, “Weeding out the bad applies” is an ongoing process that must be done, as long as it is done correctly.

Speaking generally, if their “attitudes” (e.g., profanity, inefficient work behaviors, harassment) or “domestic issues” (e.g., attendance/punctuality, personal phone usage, or improper uniform care/personal hygiene) affect their job performance, such issues should be documented, coached, and accompanied by follow-up. If improvement does not occur, then severe performance management may be in order.

Bottom line: Please do not highlight the subjective terms of domestic issues, attitude, or personality as the rationale for not hiring a candidate or terminating an employee. Instead, check to see if those concerns impact the employee’s job performance. Then make your decision through the precise job-related lens of how the employee is not achieving business goals; and not even remotely being predicated upon the employee’s personal beliefs or domestic lifestyle. I know it sounds bureaucratic: But, please be careful. What you say, can and will be used against you; especially in this overly litigious work environment.

And finally, to training. While a personnel assessment of training needs is vital to training success (e.g., improper interpersonal skills, unsafe work behaviors, incorrect equipment operation), the assessment should not be personal (e.g., attitude, domestic situation) for the same reasons cited above. If any employee refuses to attend training, does not apply the training content back to the job setting, or wastes time during the training session, the employee should be documented accordingly. Such documentation, especially after a training session, provides an employer with ample justification to track employee performance. Keep it focused on the business goals and the employee’s inability or unwillingness to achieve those goals consistently.

Feel free to contact me directly if you would like to discuss any aspect of this e-mail string, or other human resources topic, at your convenience.

Continued Success,

Steve Cesare, Ph.D.
Head Harvester, Human Resources
(760) 685-3800

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