Cultivating Culture is like Nurturing a Garden
I look out at my garden and reflect upon a conversation with a client from earlier in the week. We were discussing his company’s culture and if it aligns with his vision. He feels he lacks the ‘right’ skilled talent that ‘fit’ the company culture. His perception is that his employees did not seem to share his passion and enthusiasm to grow the company. This led us to a broader conversation about his organization structure, job description, and strategic plans.
I guided him through a conversation to identify his pain points, business strategy for the short and long-term goals and review the competencies required to achieve the business objectives. At times our conversation would go off-topic or we would hit on sensitive topics. It is through open and honest dialog that we focused on extracting the lessons learned and searched for opportunities to nourish current practices and processes.
What to work on first
While it may be challenging to know what to tend to first, it is important to review and assess all aspects of your business in order to identify key opportunities to develop to improve business, drive business and create long-term success through human capital management. Fundamentally, the key driver is clearly defined values, goals and mission which are aligned and woven throughout the organization. None of which can be successful if you don’t diversify your talents, skills and value the unique perspectives each individual can bring to the table.
As I sat in my backyard looking at my garden, it brought me right back to the start of this meeting. It is hard to see the beauty and value that your team brings if there are too many weeds blocking your vision.
Mission and constraints
When I decided to enhance my landscape, I went back to my roots. Defined my mission. The purpose of my backyard. Would it provide beautiful flowers blooming from spring to fall? Or would it produce fruits and vegetables? Or, maybe both? I needed to decide the size and shape as well. What worked for me and my vision. While a big garden, that takes up most of my background, sounds wonderful there were other aspects I needed to consider, including recreational space for my family, the impact on the wildlife, and environment conditions. I roped off the desired area and defined the size and scope.
All gardens and companies require a solid foundation. In the case of my garden, the soil. Ideally, enriched soil with nutrients that make it possible to grow and develop the way I envisioned it. When my client decided to start his own business, he took time, deliberated on concepts, bounced ideas off family, friends and others. He tended to the soil, removed rocks, weeds and other obstacles in his path. It was not easy; it took time and effort to cultivate a long-lasting healthy business. He had to add fertilizer and nutrients back into the soil to get it into balance.
Passion and hard work
This owner took his passion, and through hard work, patience and tenacity he nurtured and tended to his business to make it what it is today. But like my garden, he did not do it alone. We both needed a diverse group of people with different talents and skills to bring it all together. Each person we connect with brings their history, successes and failures to the table. On the surface we don’t see that, we only see what that individual wants to show us. I spent hours at garden centers talking to seasoned professionals, tested the soil and adjusted my plans based on the patterns of the sun, soil content and life cycle of the plants.
Beauty and functionality
My client’s business required a design that highlighted the beauty and the functionality of the company; like my garden which flourished in different seasons. Business ebbs and flows. There are peak times of high production, and times when you focus on improving internal processes or developing talents skills and knowledge. While you nourished the foundation, you observed the sun and accounted for space for each individual plant to grow and establish roots. It is important to know which plants require direct sun, indirect sun or shade. In the same way, each employee has a style they will work best within. We all want our employees to succeed and thrive. Take the opportunity to understand what type of feedback, instructions and coaching will cultivate their best performance.
Uniqueness and diversity
I asked the owner to identify his key team members, those he relied on to deliver his message and vision. We talked about their unique skills or style which set them apart. The best leaders will tell you to hire people that are not like you. To find individuals that are not “yes” people but will challenge your thinking and get you to view situations and complete tasks in different ways. People with different perspectives, cultures and viewpoints. Those who see a challenge or opportunity from a different lens. Another way to say this, consider inclusion.
By providing the right mix of soil, hydration and light or shade, a gardener can create the optimum bed in which to develop a flourishing landscape; same too with people. When we can create an environment that values and respects each person and what they bring to our teams.
Nurture for sustainability
Gardeners create garden beds that will render the best results for the desired plant, so does a successful business leader. Ultimately plants, like employees, intrinsically bring their own motivation and past experiences to work. Some employees are able to survive and thrive in any type of environment, regardless of the soil, light/shade or water, they find a way. Others, if not planted in the proper soil, with the right amount of sun and water, will not be successful. It is up to the gardener to take the time to observe, add nutrients to the soil, water and remove the weeds to build a sustainable garden.
There are times that even the most seasoned gardener will face an infestation or erosion. Although there may be several causes, at some point everyone needs to seek advice from a professional. The seasoned HR Professionals at Nimbus HR Solutions work with business leaders to cultivate and develop unique solutions to help businesses thrive.
Sitting in my backyard, looking at the beauty and diversity of my garden, I’m encouraged that my client sought the opportunity to take a step back and examine what his company has yielded. Recognizing through providing an inclusive and diverse workforce his business was flourishing the way he had not intended. He saw the value in each person’s uniqueness and diversity which when tended too and properly maintained, brought forth a successful company culture. It is important to take stock and encourage people to take root and allow them to blossom, our abundance will grow as the season changes. After all we reap what we sow.
Joanna Cino is a senior HR Consultant at Nimbus HR Solutions and loves working with managers to engage and cultivate a productive workforce. In her career, she has worked in telecom, distribution, commercial sales and manufacturing industries. Her commitment to providing practical resolutions to managers’ concerns helps businesses fully utilize their talent and mitigate risk yielding a reliable workforce. When she isn’t busy assisting small-to-mid-sized businesses by day, Joanna enjoys spending time with her family and exploring nature.