I hope that you have had both a fun and productive Summer and haven’t been too distracted by the election shenanigans. This past weekend, my wife, Lyn, and I enjoyed the last farmers market of the season for Payson, AZ. It reminded me of the cycle of reaping a bountiful Fall harvest from a garden.
Consider growing your organization as you would grow a garden. During our strategic planning and leadership training sessions with tribes and their enterprises, a good Hopi friend and business associate of mine, Perci Ami, often shares about the cycle of growth and how it relates to the four directions of the medicine wheel. This circle has proven valuable for understanding the natural order and balance necessary that yields a successful harvest in life as well as in organizations.
1. Cultivating the Earth
Every organization is unique like the seeds of different plants. What works for one organization may not work for another. Does your organization have a strategic plan that clearly identifies your unique “seeds of success”? The strategic planning process naturally reveals and cultivates what to focus your precious resources upon so that your organization is aligned with your desired vision for the future. This alignment will result in an organization that will stand the test of time.
The process also helps to differentiate the uniqueness of your organization compared to that of your competition. It is a great way to determine or reconfirm the core purpose, core values, mission, vision, goals and action plans for your organization. Successful companies that stand the test of time, even during tough times, are planted in the fertile ground of core purpose and core values. Then they adjust their vision, goals and action plans (similar to molding pliable clay) to the ever-changing external economic and political environment.
The strategic planning process, done right, draws from the collective wisdom of the leaders and employees throughout the different levels of the organization. The result is widespread involvement, buy-in and accountability for the success of the organization. The process illuminates everyone’s path toward a bright, prosperous future.
2. Planting Your Seeds
Once your strategic plan is established and you have decided which seeds to plant, it is time for a reality check to assure that the seeds you plant will grow. Ask yourself, “What in our present situation aligns with our strategic plan? What does not?” Similar to weeding a garden, continue nurturing what aligns with your plan. Remove what does not.
Having the right people doing the right things in the right way will assure a bountiful future harvest. All policies, procedures, systems and processes should assist your employees to achieve what you have defined in the strategic plan. If there are employees who do not support your organization’s direction, they are like weeds that choke the life out of what you desire to grow. These people are probably your unhappy employees. Most likely they are also your least productive employees who demand a lot of your time and energy.
Remember, great leaders do not manage people, they manage agreements with people. Consider having the leaders in your organization create with each employee they supervise a Declaration of Understanding that clearly spells out mutual desires and expectations. Employees will choose to live their agreements or not. As a result, leaders can simply manage the agreements without a clash of personalities. Employees who choose not to live by their agreements, even after extensive coaching, will probably be happier someplace else where they feel in better alignment with their values.
3. Growing Your Garden
Tend to your garden so your plants grow strong. The most cherished possessions in any organization are the employees who tend to the garden. Happy employees are productive employees. Happy employees grow happy customers. Happy customers are loyal customers. Loyal customers will overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to do business with your organization rather than with your competition. This is the ripple effect in action. It is like throwing a pebble into a pond. The ripples radiate out and come back in extraordinary ways.
The greatest way to grow happy employees with little or no additional cost is to show genuine, heartfelt appreciation on a regular basis. Appreciation is the number one thing adults crave. It is as sunshine is to a plant. Another way to grow happy employees is to invite them to share their wisdom. No one knows more about what works and what does not work in your organization than your frontline employees. Involve them in transforming your organization to the next level of success.
4. Celebrating the Harvest
By focusing on the right things, having policies and procedures that support your strategic direction, and having the right happy people doing the right things in the right way, only one thing remains—allow your employees and customers to share in the harvest. When you are successful, your employees and customers will tell their friends and family about their extraordinary experience with your organization. The greatest and easiest way to increase revenues is by word of mouth. Your customer base will increase. Your valuable employees will be inviting other valuable employees to join your organization and share in the experience. Your harvest will be bountiful.
Yes, much can be learned about creating a successful organization by remembering the art and science of growing a plentiful garden: 1) Plant your seeds; 2) Cultivate your garden; 3) Help your garden grow; and 4) Celebrate the harvest.
Much success and fulfillment,