Greener pastures Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2009

Stanley H. Greene has an administrative assistant answering his phone at Sprinturf that can brighten your day with her charming disposition.

“And what that does is that says something positive about Sprinturf,” Greene says.

That attitude is something Greene, the company’s president and CEO, wants to see in all 160 of his employees. So he and his senior leaders put five major expectations in at the growing and innovative synthetic turf installer that has done fields for pro teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles, and college and prep teams across the nation. The first three of those expectations are: a positive attitude, a desire to win and a willingness to be a proactive team member.

“And if we do those things well, it will lead to the fourth thing, which is delighted customers, folks that will be raving fans and will tell folks you absolutely have to use Sprinturf,” he says. “And if we do those things right, it will lead to the fifth, which is profitable growth.”

Smart Business spoke with Greene about what he learned from the late Chuck Daly on getting things done and how you can build a desire to win in company meetings.

Look for a positive attitude first and foremost. Everything starts with an attitude, and we hire around that more so than we do the expertise because we can always train. If you have the right attitude, it would be easy to train you to do what it is we do.

I used to play basketball for the University of Pennsylvania, and Chuck Daly, who was a two-time NBA championship winner, was my coach at Penn, and we were the last college team he coached ... and he taught us what’s key is that you’re always thinking about how you can get things done as opposed to thinking about what’s wrong. We want to make sure we hire people that think along those lines, and one of the ways you do it is with your interview questions. This is not unique to Sprinturf. The common thread is you want them to have a positive outlook and be open. In an interview, I’ll ask different people the same question and I’ll say, ‘Tell me what you think about positive attitudes; tell me what you think about negative attitudes,’ and get their perspective on it, and it tells you a lot. I remember years ago working in cable in hiring for a service tech job, and for the finalist, I would always at least talk to them and get a sense of them and ask certain questions. And I recall hiring a service tech, and these are the guys who fix the television, and you may ask, ‘Tell me what would you do if you were presented a situation if you’re with a customer who is really irate and really upset about whatever may have happened.’ And the person, the tech type that may not understand the value of turning attitudes around, will usually say, ‘Tell them to call my supervisor and they’ll deal with it.’ But I’ll never forget this one guy ... he said, ‘I’d do everything possible to make that customer happy.’ And just that attitude, the approach, the thought that that’s what he needed to do and he believed that he could do it meant that you had 80 percent of what you needed solved because it’s all about dealing with people and customers.

Spark a winning atmosphere. The second part is that we want people to have a desire to win. As we have our communications, we ensure that as people are communicating with each other, we catch anything that would be inconsistent with what we’re looking for because there could be a statement that someone makes, ‘Well, I don’t know if we can get this done.’ Wait a minute, what do you mean? Versus another person who says, ‘We’re going to do whatever it takes to get this done by the date the customer wants it.’ I believe when you say that, then it’s going to automatically trigger in your mind various options you can use to make that happen. So we try to check each other when someone is maybe going off track a little bit, and that’s the value of communication sessions because it gives you the ability to check on that. I’m not saying we’re perfect that way and every time something comes up it’s corrected, but that’s the intent, and actually what happens is you really don’t notice it that much because you are bringing in the right people.

Get people together as a team. Third, we want them to engage in proactive teamwork. Everybody can certainly work together and put out a fire once in awhile, but how many folks are actually planning and working on improving processes in a very proactive way?

Again, the best way is to enable people to express what happens when it goes wrong. Ask them, ‘What’s going wrong in the organization? What’s going wrong as it relates to delivering quality service and delighting our customers; what’s going wrong in terms of hitting our profitability goals?’ And then people will tell you, ‘This is not happening the way it should, or that process is broken and so forth, and we keep doing this and we keep doing that,’ So ask, ‘What would it look like if we were doing it the right way?’ Essentially, all work is a process, a series of processes, and what people will wind up doing is identifying a process or processes that are broken and the best way to fix them is not for the boss or the CEO to say, ‘This is what I want you to do.’ The best way is to get the group together and enable them to fix it themselves because then they own it, they feel good about it, and there’s a better chance that it’s going to be executed than if someone like a president or a CEO tells them, ‘This is what you’ll do, I have all the answers, and I’m smarter than everyone else, so I’m going to give you this solution and you implement it.’

How to reach: Sprinturf, (877) 686-8873 or www.sprinturf.com