Monday Morning Momentum™ with David J. Pollay – March 23, 2009
When I was a sophomore in college, my three roommates and I bought four plants from the local grocery store to liven up our dorm suite. We wanted some variety, so each plant was a little different.
When we brought the plants home, we put them around our suite, grabbed a mug, and watered them. We then designated that mug the official watering can; it would help make sure we gave the same amount of water to each plant.
The next day, three of the plants looked droopy. We grabbed the mug and watered them all again. Another day passed and the three plants looked even worse. We did the only thing we knew how to do; we gave them all more water. And that didn’t work either.
The next day a friend showed up at our place.
“What’s up with your
plants?!” she laughed as she entered the room.
“They’re not doing so well,” I said.
She laughed again. “No kidding!”
“But we’re giving them plenty of water,” said one of my roommates.
She smiled, walked over and touched the soil of each of the unhealthy plants.
“You’re giving them too much water,” she said.
“That can’t be,” I said. “All plants need water.”
“Yes,” she said, “but in different amounts. You just have to touch the soil. If the soil is dry, the plant needs water. If the soil is wet, the plant has plenty of water.”
We followed her advice, and as you would guess, the plants thrived.
People and plants
I’ve always believed
that the lesson I learned that day translates directly to business. Employees need nourishment too, but just like
plants, they need it in different doses.
When we treat employees the same, we miss an opportunity to give them
what they really need to grow.
People are not the same
A number of years
ago I was in a meeting with senior leaders discussing the importance of
recognizing employees when they do good work.
One of the leaders pushed his chair back from the table, put his hands
behind his head, and said, “I rarely give out recognition; I believe my
employees work harder when I keep it in short supply.”
Was his strategy
effective? Yes, but with only one
person. The rest of his team had
individual preferences for when and how they liked to be recognized. He wasn’t reaching everyone. And as a result, they weren’t happy, nor as
productive and successful as they could have been. But he had a deep-set belief that everyone
should get the same ration of feedback.
We must take the time
to know what brings out the strengths of our employees. But, how do we know what they need? The answer is straightforward: we have to ask. Employees will tell us what they need when we
touch them with our questions, our interest, and our support. They’ll tell us what size mug of water to
bring and how often.
Let’s give our employees what they need to succeed. Speak their language and watch them grow.
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Have a great week!
Best to you,
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David J. Pollay is the creator of The
Law of the Garbage Truck™. He is a
syndicated columnist with the North
Star Writers Group, creator and host of The Happiness Answer™ television program, and an internationally sought
after speaker. David’s book,
Beware of Garbage Trucks!™, is due out this summer.
David is the founder and president of the consulting and seminar organization, The Momentum Project. He is also a founding associate executive director of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). If you want to reprint one of David’s columns, email email@example.com. Here’s David’s full bio.