Plant Seeds for Workplace Success

Sunny warm days of spring are just around the corner. In fact, this is perfect weather for gardening, and you needn’t pine at your desk wishing for opportunities to grow something. Plant some seeds in your workplace and you will reap benefits for years to come.

Take the steps outlined below, and then sit back and enjoy what grows.

Sow seeds of confidence among your staff. Vow to make yours a supportive work environment and then take action to make it so. When staffers tear down one another during meetings, challenge them to find something right about co-workers’ ideas instead of merely pointing out what is wrong.

Make an effort to catch your staffers doing something right. Notice and comment on their small successes, not just their out-of-this-world wins. When a staffer satisfies an angry customer, comes up with a creative solution or delivers the right results just in time, acknowledge it. Tell your team members what they do well, and let them know what their efforts mean to you, to the organization and to your customers.

Example: “Jean, thank you for staying 15 minutes late last night. Your diligence in tracking that lost order meant that we saved the account. In this challenging business economy, you know that every order counts. I really appreciate having you on my team and knowing that I can count on you to finish the job.”

Water with interesting assignments. Most workers thirst for meaning in their daily jobs. Learn what matters most to each person and then connect tasks to those personal priorities.

Example: Spending time with family is an important goal for many. Explain how the lawnmower components your team creates enable homeowners to finish a household chore quickly, freeing them to focus on having fun with their families instead of toiling in the yard.

Nourish with meaningful feedback. All too often, leaders focus on the negative, telling people what they did wrong or offering thinly veiled criticism couched in phrases like “What you could have done better is …”

You have a duty to correct staffers and to offer them the constructive criticism that they need to grow and improve. However, in a garden, too much fertilizer or the wrong kind of fertilizer at the wrong time can “burn” plants and stunt their growth or even kill them. Similarly, you need to offer the right kinds of balanced feedback to encourage your staffers’ growth.

Strategy: Aim to give three positive comments for every negative one. You may not hit that target every day, as staffers’ results and performance will vary from day to day. However, you should set that as your long-term goal and average your feedback over time.

Weed out negativity. Don’t let pessimism and fear choke your team’s potential. When you overhear rumors and complaints, address them. If you make the mistake of ignoring such workplace “weeds,” your hard work and careful preparation will be wasted as your anticipated crop—a happy and productive work force—fails to yield a healthy harvest.

On the other hand, if you target negativity and weed it out, you stand to reap a bumper crop. And you didn’t even get any dirt on your hands.

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