No matter what industry you're working in, the right leadership can make all the difference. A positive work environment sustained by a supportive leader can not only boost employee morale, but employee satisfaction can also reflect itself in the quality of work completed at the company.
It’s no different when it comes to pest control companies. A supportive work environment and ample opportunities for career growth can help improve the company’s success overall and maintain employee wellbeing. Margaret Townsend, president and pest control operator for AIPM, takes active approaches to ensuring the happiness of her team members and the overall success of her company.
Keep reading to discover some of her own personal secrets of how she effectively leads her team to make a world of difference in the pest control community and beyond!
How do you effectively foster an emotional connection within your pest control team?
There’s nothing more important than a team that cares about each other and the results of their hard work for the company. Maintaining open communication channels is key to ensure that all team members are satisfied in their role. I prioritize touching base with all members of my team on a personal level during the week–or even daily, if needed. Not just about work, but also to see how they and their family are doing. If they confide in me about a specific situation, I’ll always offer my support and follow up to ensure that things were properly resolved.
More than that, I constantly check to ask if they’re enjoying their work, and if there’s anything that I can do to help improve things. I do the same with upper management as well–it’s important to hear their perspective and ideas for improvement, and brainstorm ways that I can help.
How do you help support trust in the workplace?
Trust comes from accountability. I always do what I say I will do. My employees know what to expect from me. Likewise, I trust everyone until they’ve given a reason not to trust them – then, we’ll have a conversation on why that behavior was unacceptable and set clear expectations on how to earn that trust back.
In order to create a trusting, positive work environment, I implemented a no-gossip rule. If there are internal issues, that needs to be made transparent and reported to the proper person. Any problems or concerns must be taken to a person with authority to fairly address the issue. In addition, the team member with concerns is responsible for coming up with three possible solutions to their concerns. When it comes down to it, gossip is a motivation and trust killer. If you want to support trust in your company, do not allow it to happen.
Lastly, I make it exceedingly clear that if I make mistakes, I should be held accountable for them as well. It’s important for leaders to do their best to not make mistakes, but admit when they’ve done something wrong and apologize for the behavior. I have the same expectations for every member of my organization.
As a pest control company, what are some strategies to ensure that your team maintains high levels of motivation to do good work?
As a pest control company, it’s always important to consistently be doing good work and ensuring that all clients are satisfied with their pest control services. I do my best to ensure that my team is highly-motivated. I make sure to seek out those types of workers when filling a position. Always hire right the first time! Rushing to fill a spot can result in an employee who isn’t a culture fit – and that’s not something you can teach. The wrong fit can lower morale and negatively impact the motivation of the rest of your team. Likewise, the right person can boost motivation!
Even in our communication channels, I always try to engage and reward positive motivation. Team members who show great work or take the time out of their busy schedules to help out another team member are given “tacos.” Everyone on the team can give tacos to each other. Everyone gets 5 tacos a day to reward another team member. Eventually, you can collect enough tacos to get some great prizes, like movie tickets, more paid time off, new Leatherman tools, or even cash!
Lastly, communication is key. Like I said before, I always check in with my team and see who needs help or who needs a little bit of encouragement. If I see anyone struggling, I ask how I can support them to stay motivated. By staying connected with all of my team members, I can get a pretty clear idea of who needs what, and what factors I can adjust to boost motivation levels. I also always communicate my appreciation to individual team members with hand written cards thanking them for all of their contributions to this company and to other team members.
How do you help your team become cognitively engaged with their work?
For management-level team members, I take care to hire the right person from the start. Self-motivated workers with the drive and ambition to remain actively engaged at all times are a crucial addition to any team.
For non-management staff, it’s important to follow up and verify the quality of work performed–and offer additional assistance and extra attention if necessary, in order to maintain an optimal level of standard.
Are there steps you take to help ensure that the members of your team don't get burned out?
By making sure that I keep open communication with my stay and routinely check in, I’m usually able to keep burnout to a minimum. My team feels comfortable communicating to me when they need time off for mental health days or family events, and I’m flexible about that.
I also try to keep the work environment positive and the atmosphere fun, so that people actually want to come to work. We try to get the whole team–and their families–together for a big, annual summer BBQ to show our appreciation for them. While the pandemic has prevented this the past few years, we’re hoping to restart the tradition again this summer!
When it comes to pest control, the right company can make all of the difference. Choosing which company to trust with managing your property’s pest control issues can be challenging, and trying to determine what truly makes a company reputable can be overwhelming.That’s why partnering with a pest control company with effective leadership and a positive work environment is the right choice, for both workers and property owners alike!