What happens when you plant a tropical plant in Wisconsin and “forget” to winterize it or bring it inside when the winter weather begins?
The plant was healthy. It was thriving in the warm summer sun. It was watered as directed and given the correct amount for food and fertilizer. It was even sung to on occasion. The blooms were beautiful and the vines were growing at an exponential pace.
As the chilliness of the impending winter crept into the nights I watched the leaves wither and slowly fall. I said to myself on more than occasion, “I really need to get that inside”. I knew that the plant could not withstand the changing environment, and yet I waited too long.
The once flourishing greenery is still attached to the trellis but is now brown, frozen, and lifeless. It did nothing wrong. It wasn't defective. It exceeded expectations, climbing fifteen feet and producing new buds all summer long. The plant's needs changed, but so did the environment. Nature ran its course. I failed to nurture.
The people on our teams thrive best in a steady, nurturing environment. Changes, both internal to the individual and within the business, should be expected and planned for. It is our job as leaders to identify when the needs of the people we lead require attention.
As leaders, what can we do to ensure success and homeostasis? How can we identify when changes must be made and if they will be impactful?
Right Plant, Wrong Pot: Even the best and the brightest can wilt if they aren't getting enough sun. Just because you put a person in a position, and they can do the job, doesn't mean that it's the right spot. Allow for growth and change so each team member can grow to their full potential. Identify when one’s responsibilities can be shifted to increase productivity and job satisfaction. Thrive over survive.
Failure to Root: You can do everything right. Hire the right person for the right job. Foster an environment with strong culture and cohesive teams. Lead effectively. And yet, you may be faced with a person that can’t seem to connect with others or fully adapt to your business. While this person may fill a spot for a time, they will never be completely invested. You have an “annual” rather than a “perennial”. No matter how much you invest, they will likely not return for years to come.
Lack of Hardiness: Some just aren't cut out for the job. Accept that not all hires will be fruitful. Provide training and a collaborative environment that focuses on professional growth and development. By doing so, you can be sure that you have provided all the necessary nourishment for success, even if your sprout never blossoms. Your failed attempt may just need a different garden in order to bear fruit.
The Bad Seed: Interviews are difficult. We get the representative of the person we are questioning. We are promised a certified, guaranteed to perform seedling but always run the risk of sowing a dud. Identify the failure to thrive early on and dig out the seedling before its roots get too deep and infect the rest of the crop.
As a leader, by providing a structured, well balanced environment you can increase your chances of building a team of highly productive, fruitful individuals. Be aware, be nurturing, and don’t be afraid to weed out the Creeping Charlie.
It may be too early but spring fever has already set in. Seventy-five days to go.