How gardening best practices can be applied to management and organizational behavior.
Gardening best practices affect landscaping behavior. As you drive through your neighborhood, the conditions of the lawns either make you feel better about yourself or question your abilities. It may be much the same when you assess the conditions of the marketplace when you size up your competition. Beautifully manicured lawns are a site to behold and the majority of the population, the status quo, wonders who has the time and resources to maintain such a high level of performance. Management best practices affect organizational behavior.
Status quo does not create success.
Organizations that sit atop their industry are revered in much the same way that the best garden in your neighborhood is. How do they do it? What is it about these individual and team practices that lead to such a consistently high level of organizational behavior. We revere their productivity so what can we learn from their approach that will help us improve our own systems? What do we need to do in order to compete in that same level of success?
Let’s explore some of the lessons and similarities between gardening and organizational behavior.
Organizational behavior: The misuse of the grass isn’t greener ideology
Those in a position of leadership often lament how modern employees show no loyalty to organizations. A common phrase among short sighted leaders revolves around how employees will leave for fifty cents more to a sub-par competitor but they don’t realize, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” Unfortunately the reverse isn’t true, its not as though organizations have remained distinctly loyal to their employees in a manner that would warrant reciprocal loyalty. In their book Insuring Tomorrow, Author’s Tony Canas and Carly Burnham discuss this workforce schism, “Millennials have a different definition of loyalty than previous generations did. For Millennials, loyalty means, ‘I worked very hard while I was there.” Both parties have grown to distrust each other and organizations that want to thrive will need to reinvest in means to demonstrate to their existing employees and recruits that they value performance.
Organizational behavior: The cattle isn’t always fatter on the other side
Organizations need to understand that the cattle on the other side of the fence aren’t always fatter. Leadership may think that their employees can be easily replaced, but it may be harder than they think to find good talent. Additionally, their competition may not be working with any greater talent than they are but perhaps their structure, systems and culture enable people to thrive in their areas of strength rather than focusing on their areas of weakness. Good gardening and good management practices facilitate organizational performance by working with what you have. If leadership does not want good employees leaving for marginal increases then they will need to create workplace environments that communicate greater value in the person, position and development of their team members. Leaders have to care for their gardens.
Organizational behavior: The grass is greener where you water it
Do you want your team to grow and thrive? You have to water it daily. Areas that you neglect in your yard become obvious rather quickly as the grass withers, flowering weeds pop up and crab grass infiltrates the landscape. Each of these conditions is a symptom of a lack of care or neglect in areas of your yard as well as your organization. Within the organization these indicators are not always as obvious, they require greater awareness of the people, processes and productivity of the team. What can we learn if we take a few of these under performing manifestations from gardening and apply them to organizational behavior?
Management best practices: Withering grass within the team
Keys to change:
Management best practices: Flowering weeds within the organization
Landscaping that has flowering weeds is one that has the resources to flourish but there is a misapplication of effort and/or values. This team has resources and may well be stocked as well as staffed for success but negative behaviors are being rewarded. Greenery can be observed across the yard but it is riddled with weeds that from a distance appear to be flowers. This type of organizational behavior is common in high producing teams where structure is ignored. Cultures that are led exclusively by the numbers or results, regardless of the long term impacts are often the ones that fail to correct negative behaviors before they come back to bite them hard.
Keys to change:
Management best practices: Crab grass woven into the fabric of the team
What is the definition of crabgrass? Crabgrass (n.) a creeping grass that can become a serious weed. This may be the more difficult of the three examples to identify and resolve as symptoms such as crabgrass are rather sneaky in how they infiltrate teams. From a distance it looks like its green and healthy but up close it isn’t right. The underlying leadership issues is the failure to identify and address issues when they are small. Bad behavior isn’t being rewarded but it also isn’t being addressed and the culture is not being proactively cultivated. This could be the wrong people on the bus, to borrow concepts from Jim Collins Good to Great, meaning team members that don’t fit the vision and values (if those are even clear). It could also be that the right people are on the team but they aren’t yet in the right positions and therefore are struggling to affect change due to misplacement.
Keys to change:
Average effort applied to organizational behavior will result in below average team performance
Any business today that embraces the status quo as an operating principle is going to be on a death march. – Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks
If you want to have a presentable (above average) yard, it does not require a great deal of effort but it does require consistency. A good yard does not require super human abilities. To cultivate a beautiful yard, you will need to make an above average effort in the system and maintain consistency. A beautiful yard does not require a wizards touch. Much of the work is in the preparation of the yard in a manner that it can be maintained. Often the difference between the results is found in the consistency of the effort. Understanding the best practices for management and organizational behavior can help you move in the right direction for the performance of your team.
Above average effort applied to organizational behavior will result in above average team performance
We cannot effect meaningful change if we become complacent, if we become comfortable with our own positions in the status quo. – Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa
Good leaders find enjoyment in the challenge, the process and the results. Good leaders are not super heroes they just refuse to melt into the mess of the status quo. High performing organizations are not unicorns, they are composed of teams of people who take pride in performance and rise to the challenge of their competitive environment. There is no myth or mystery to consistently building towards high performance as an organization, it takes a lot of hard work. The tools for success include vision guiding effort, values directing productivity and consistency in the collective contributions of the team to reach the goals of the organization.
IZ Ventures - more than business coaching and consulting, we help you connect, collaborate and conquer.
Answers to complex issues often start with simple steps, don’t overlook the power of listening to affect change in the achievement gap.
We recognize that in nearly all facets of life, from upbringing to education and on through professional opportunities there are historical achievement gaps that impede the application of good things come to those who work for them. While there is no substitute for hard work, regardless of one’s starting point, there should be little dispute that some start their journey with more obstacles that others. Recently there was a video floating around the web that attempted to explain the impacts of privilege with a group of students preparing for a simple race. Recognizing these obstacles helps us to see that we are not always comparing apples to apples when thinking about where we start our journey.
Listening to fuel change includes three key aspects: Recognizing our role, collaborating for creative solutions and following through with our vision for making the world suck less (#MTWSL), we have to ask – where do we start?
Recognizing my own role
How do we level the playing field to create equitable opportunities for those who have been overlooked and/or underprivileged in their pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? While the question is loaded and rather complex, the answer may be closer than we realize. Dr. Hugo Slim is viewed as a leading scholar in humanitarian studies and ethics. Slim notes, “The testimony of individual voices reveals the experience of hidden groups, and counters the bias of those who speak for or ignore them.” Perhaps in so saying Dr. Slim echoes Michael Jackson in calling for each of us to look at the person in the mirror and ask whether he is listening for a change.
Who has ignored the voices of those who have been overlooked? Me.
Who has a bias as well as a misplaced ego is speaking for others who are underprivileged? Me.
Collaborating for creative solutions
Aid to an individual, family, community or nation effectively comes in the form of creative collaboration rather than supplanting the culture of the parties being assisted. David Dollar’s work in reviewing community development on an international level has many lessons applicable to localized assistance. Dollar notes in Eyes Wide Open that External resources can be helpful in assisting the local stake holders to analyze options, implement unique plans for systemic changes and evaluate these revolutions as they gain momentum. Collaboration requires those who help to listen rather than speak for; to listen rather than ignore voices from within the community being served. Listening to the testimony of others, according to Dr. Hugo Slim, “Has the capacity to break down generalisations [sic] and misinformation about communities, their economies, needs, power structures, social organization and goals.”
Who can do more damage than good if their good intentions are not put in check? Me.
Following through with our vision of equality
In committing our current international efforts to developmentalism we often seek to paint with the broad strokes of best practices and apply those principles to all situations. We apply micro success, which should be celebrated, to macro solutions and don’t achieve the same results. Unfortunately answers are not one size fits all. While many of the same issues affect people and communities across the globe, the answers to those issues are as numerous as the cultures they are embedded in. Progress cannot trample over or disregard the distinct nature of those beliefs, traditions and cultures. This diversity creates both unique challenges as well as core foundations for sustainable solutions.
Who can do more good by listening rather than speaking? Me.
In short, if we want to make positive changes to reduce the achievement gap and increase equitable opportunities, the place to start is a simple as simply listening. Recognize bias, hold your tongue and exercise the sense of hearing.
“. . . the testimony of individual voices reveals the experience of hidden groups, and counters the bias of those who speak for or ignore them. It has the capacity to break down generalisations [sic] and misinformation about communities, their economies, needs, power structures, social organization and goals. While this may complicate the design of relief and development projects, it may ultimately make them more equitable and effective.” - Dr. Hugo Slim, Listening for a Change
IZ Ventures more than business coaching & consulting - we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer.
Practical principles of leadership - video on listening
Jon Isaacson / IZ Ventures - More than coaching and consulting, we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer. #MTWSL
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