Once upon a time there was young man from India, Ishaan, who searching for more in life. While he was happy in India, he felt something pulling him away. He began to take a real interest in social media marketing and business. As he continued to learn and grow, Ishaan received an opportunity to move and work in the United States. Ishaan jumped at the opportunity, because as he saw it, he could now escape the poverty and pollution that had engulfed his city. The big, bright new world of the United States would surely offer a greater life.
Although Ishaan was successful in business, there was something missing in his new country. The money hadn’t made him completely happy. He began to see the differences in community and personal relationships. In the United States people weren’t as friendly as back home. He felt as though he’d always be an outsider. And most of all, he missed his family and the many gatherings and celebrations they had so often. This is a classic case of The Grass Isn’t Always Greener. And for Ishaan it wasn’t.
How many times have we heard a story similar to this before? Hundreds. The classic phrase which accompanies the stories is: The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence, it’s greener where you water it.
While this is no doubt true, it doesn’t tell the whole story. What happens if someone is watering their yard but there are no seeds to grow? What do I mean? Let me explain.
One can spend hours, weeks, months, and even years putting in the work to water their yard. However, it won’t green up if there’s no grass seed or fertilizer. It just turns to mud. Nothing can grow without water, but water doesn’t grow anything without the seed.
In any organization it’s the job of the leader to provide the seed and fertilizer. It’s the players, assistants, and employees jobs to water the yard. In essence, the job of the leader is to make their organization’s grass as green as possible. Too often the people below the leader are expected to water the grass, but without the proper assistance they feel helpless and give up.
Those in leadership must provide the foundation (soil, seed, and fertilizer) and support required to grow a successful organization (beautiful yard). If they fail to do so, people will begin to look at the neighbor’s yard, and wonder what it’s like over there. When your organization’s culture begins to deteriorate, people begin to look elsewhere.
Here are five ways get your organizations grass greener:
Be the example. Be the leader, not the boss. Get out on the front lines with your people. All great organizations run off bottom-up leadership. The leaders are visible, active, and in tune with team members. Those in position of leadership should work hard to serve their employees. Simply leading by a title won’t cut it. If your people don’t feel as if you really care about them, or that you don’t work hard, you’re going to lose them. Whatever you expect of others, be willing to do and more. Be the example.
Team build. People will work hard and water the yard if they feel a part of a team. Team building will help foster a sense of community and cohesion. Company get-togethers with the team are great ways to do this. It’s also a great idea to have a couple of gatherings where families are included. Some fun ideas to incorporate would be funny dress days (themed), playing music overhead, and going to a park to have team competitions.
Be approachable. It’s essential for leaders to have an open door policy. It’s not enough to say this. Leaders must be visible and get out to talk to people. When you do this people begin to develop a level of trust with you, and then they will feel comfortable coming into your office. It should be your goal to say hello and ask how each team member is doing on a daily basis. You can’t sit in the office all day and expect people to trust you. You have to know the “pulse” of what’s going on. Ask team members, “What do you think? How can we be better?” Once they know you care, you will have buy-in, hard work, loyalty, and trust.
Here’s a clip of Coach John Harbaugh explaining why you should ask, “What do you think?”
Give praise. For God’s sake, when people work hard and do something big, celebrate them! As a leader you have to make people feel appreciated. Make it a priority to stop and smell the roses. You have to stop to celebrate and enjoy the successes. Call people out and acknowledge them in front of their peers for their great work. The bottom line is this: people want to feel appreciated more than anything else. How do YOU do that in your organization? Simply providing a paycheck is not enough. People need to feel fulfilled. Make sure you’re providing praise at every opportunity.
Don’t get stale. As a leader you must fight for your culture every day. You have to be intentional. Just because things were previously good doesn’t mean they will always be. The culture you want has to be discussed and modeled. Leaders must stay current with the latest trends and be able to stay in tune with everyone in the organization. In order to prevent getting stale, leaders can have weekly meetings (briefly) to discuss one aspect of their culture or value system. Another idea is to send out weekly memo’s so people are in the loop. (Our assistant principal has started doing this and our staff loves it). The main thing is to not assume. You know what happens when you do.
We can’t just assume people are happy because they get a pay-check, or they are a part of the organization. If we expect them to give their best, we need to give them reasons to do so. Reward and acknowledge great effort. It’s the littlest things that end up making the biggest differences.
Remember, the grass is only green where you water it. But, make sure there’s something there to water first!
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.