Employees are friends, not food!

My apologies to Pixar Studios for plagiarising the line from Finding Nemo but it set me thinking about how we view, perceive and treat our employees who by collective agreement are the biggest asset we as business owners have.

But like many ‘assets’ we have attempted to regularise, codify and standardise our approach to employees in a way that now has an industrial feel with verbs like expendable, replaceable and obsolescence attached to them.

I would like you to consider ditching that approach and move from an industrial mode of operation to an agricultural one!

Put simply…we can grow our own forest of talented individuals accepting that some might be a bit bent, gnarly, prickly or even bitter but the results we get from them are far better than the tall, straight, polished and sprayed corporate homogenised model.

Keeping that agricultural theme going and viewing ourselves as talent farmers means we have a range of ideas we can adopt;

  • Preparation – We need to prepare the ground (that we would normally refer to as the business’s culture) to ensure that it will allow people to grow and develop at their own pace.
  • Weeding – Accept that some people will not have the businesses best interests at heart and will have a negative effect on their colleagues. Weed those ones out!
  • Feeding – Develop the talent’s hunger for knowledge, responsibility and growth by allowing them to try new things and take a risk.
  • Supporting –Just as a sunflower grows best when supported by a stake, support your talent with stakes of mentors and coaches who have been there, done that and know what it’s all about.
  • Harvest – There’s no point growing these fine specimens if you’re not going to do anything with them. So plan in advance how you are going to use the talent you’ve helped to nurture to move the business to the next level.

The painful truth here in that not everyone will thrive, grow and develop in the greenhouse you create but in these cases we need to ask ourselves the following questions so we don’t lose the talent we have invested in;

  • Does the individual have attributes & skills that we are not using properly? Square peg, round hole syndrome? If we support them to the best of their attributes & skills do we get a better result for our organisation, even if it’s not the one we originally intended?
  • Do we perceive the individual fairly? Or do we have some form of discrimination or blind-spot where they are concerned? Do we have a mechanism to give us the reality check we need to ensure our thoughts, words and actions are all aligned?
  • Are we encouraging people to grow at different rates in different ways? Our role is to create the environment to allow growth and development to occur, but the individual is responsible for their own growth.

I appreciate that this is easier said than done, but if you would like to move towards being a culture nurturer then please contact Jon Lister to learn more about taking this forward.