Organisational Gardening to avoid the wilderness
I was talking to someone the other day about gardening in their organisation, I must admit it got a bit of a "are you mad" look which was fair but when you think about it there are similarities after all as a leader, your role is to grow your people so let's think about it for a moment or two.
Room To Grow
Plants need room to grow, you don't want to over crowd them, you team need that same room to grow, don't over crowd them with orders and instructions and demands. Give them a direction and a result and then let them develop, even fail. Only step in to stop a failure if it's a big one, the team needs to learn. In a similar way you need to ensure that they have the skills that they need to grow into not just their current role but their next role as wall which means they need a training plan for their next job, not just this one.
Ensure There Is Enough Light
Things always grow better with light, your garden always looks better in the sunlight, it always amazes me to watch the flowers physically follow the sun round always pointing towards where the most light is then closing up at night. Your people are the same, they will point to where the light, the direction is, if you aren't giving it and someone else is (even if it isn't the direction / light that you want) that's where your team will follow. Take the time to ensure that they know the right direction and ensure there is a plentiful supply. That means it's not enough to mention the vision or the purpose of the direction once, you need to eb talking about it every day, associating everything you do with these things so it's perfectly clear which way the light is.
The Right Nourishment
Different plants need different things. I have a great lemon tree that always seems to be full, I get dedicated citrus feed for it and then ensure that its watered in correctly, unfortunately the bush that was next tot eh lemon tree didn't like citrus feed and it promptly died. Everybody needs nourishment, encouragement in the right way, there are of course some universal requirements, all plants need water in the same way all people need feedback and communication. Talk with your team regularly and I mean multiple times per day, sometimes about just the weather, sometimes about theme and how their weekend has gone with the family and if little Betty enjoyed her tennis lesson and about what is going on in the organisation, what's happening with eh customers and your quality and delivery. The more your team know about that is happening then more they buy in. They need to know when they haven't got it right and what needs to happen to fix it. Don't get let the message get confused, they need to be clear on what the message, any message is to get the goodness from it.
Weed Out What Doesn't Belong
It doesn't matter how careful you are, how much weedmat you put down weeds always find a way of getting in there and they need to be removed. Occasionally, no matter how good your interviewing and screening processes are you end up with someone who just doesn't fit with the values and direction of the organisation. Maybe you inherited them on maybe they just slipped through. The thing is, like a weed in your garden if you don't sort it quickly, they spread. Others pop up from almost out of nowhere, people who were great employees suddenly start to slide and the culture starts to get strangled. In your garden you need to deal with unwanted weeds as quickly as possible, if you don't you look back in a few weeks or maybe a month and think how did all go so wrong? It's the same in your organisation, failing to deal quickly with those that just don't fit results in you looking back and wishing you had done things sooner rather than now having to sort out 1 thing it's 10 things or half the staff. Weed fast and weed early.
Gardening and Leadership are similar skills, you need to know what you want in the end and then design what you are putting in to get that result. You need to take action when things go off the plan and give your team (and your plants) room to go and a light to grow towards. Not doing any of this, well it turns into a fairly unruly wilderness pretty quickly.
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