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4 Ways to Keep Training on Track
Consistency is the key to smooth production, and a regular program of training helps make sure our growers continue to produce high quality crops.
Four Star uses a combination of methods to train new growing team employees and also help experienced staff keep updated, while practicing good growing techniques. It’s important to develop training to make sure production and crops are consistent. In a given year, Four Star will produce upwards of 110,000 Grande™ trays, 100,000+ hanging baskets, and thousands more trays of small containers, large containers, perennials and ColorChoice® Flowering Shrubs. So our training needs to be comprehensive, regular, and consistent. Here are a few of the more successful methods we use.
1. Learn from staff experience
New employees ‘shadow’ the experienced team to learn the plant care protocols, observe watering techniques, and understand the Four Star approach to growing. The experienced staff share “do’s and don’ts,” as well as their individual tricks of the trade. The shadow program continues for the first few weeks, until new employees are well acquainted with routines.
2. Keep it in writing
Another useful program has been the development of a printed “growers’ protocol” booklet, which is given to all growers. This includes detailed information on each step of the growing process so that employees can use it for reference. Once employees are familiar with the written procedures and have shadowed experienced employees for several weeks, they can begin work on their own. The growing management team also reviews new employees’ knowledge individually to make sure they understand their responsibilities.
Four Star also shares materials published by industry experts to update staff on new developments and research. This includes articles and illustrations on soil testing, watering, and other topics.
3. Show how it looks
Another excellent reference tool for employees are photographs and charts that show the effects of over- or under-watering, how day length and sunlight levels affect plant growth, and how plants grown with different average day/night temperatures inside and outside differ. Discussions around these comparisons help employees develop a deeper understanding of the growing process and allow them to adjust their practices accordingly.
For instance, we encourage our staff to understand how summer and winter conditions vary, and how that affects watering requirements. In late spring/early summer, Four Star final waterings are done between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., before going home. When outdoor temperatures are in the 80s or 90s and darkness doesn’t occur for four or five hours, the crops benefit from watering later in the afternoon.
But in winter, things are different. The sun only shines for a short period of time — darkness comes three or more hours earlier. Also, greenhouse day and night temperatures are cooler — often dramatically cooler. We train our staff to understand that under these different conditions, they will not need to water as much, or as late in the day.
4. Walk-arounds by the staff
Our growing team regularly holds group walk-arounds to allow everyone to see crop and growing conditions throughout our greenhouses and discuss situations that arise. It is much like doctors’ “rounds” in a hospital, where they discuss, diagnose and prescribe solutions for patients they encounter.
When the team holds a walk-around, they carefully reviews the crops, looking for these items:
These are just a few of the ongoing training programs at Four Star that have helped our growing staff provide consistent and effective plant care. To learn more, contact our staff here or 734.654.6420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.