Death Valley, CA is normally the hottest, driest, lowest point in North America where steady drought and record summer heat make it a land of extremes. The ground usually looks like the surface of the moon. It’s called “Death Valley” but it isn’t really dead. It’s dormant. Below the hard, cracked surface lies potential. The seeds of beauty wait patiently for conditions to be right. During those rare years when the right amount of rain falls with the right frequency in the right seasons, when the warmth of the sun allows for root systems to sprout and when harsh drying winds do not blow through to kill off the sprouts, vast fields of wildflowers bloom in breathtaking display. The life is there. The Beauty is there, waiting.
People Are The Same
No matter how hard or soft the surface may appear, there is untold potential beneath that surface in any person. Like the Death Valley wildflowers, that potential usually sits dormant, waiting for conditions to be just right for it to blossom. Unfortunately, in many organizations, the right conditions for that growth are more rare than they are in Death Valley. The leaders we call Engagers know how to create those conditions through the Dynamic we call “Cultivate.”
To “Cultivate” is to prepare land for crops and to foster the growth of plants, ideas, character, reputation, etc. With this dynamic, the engager stimulates growth in the people for whom they are responsible.
It’s About More Than The Work
We’re not just talking about career or work growth; people want to grow in their personal lives. I remember a manager who worked for the same company as me several years ago. He managed a contracted service where the employees worked for our company and the client paid a monthly fee for the services. He had hundreds of employees. They all made minimum wage with no prospect of increases due to the nature of the customer’s business. Most of those employees would have walked through walls for that manager. They came to work, they did a great job and they were loyal. Why? Because when they came to work for him they became better people. They grew personally. He brought in experts to teach classes on personal finances, he provided classes to improve the employee’s English or to gain computer skills. Things like that showed how much he valued the employees as people and they truly appreciated what they gained personally from that work environment.
More Than A Paycheck
We all want to contribute to our work’s Mission and Vision, but we also want our work to contribute to our personal growth and learning. How does my work make me a better, more rounded, more prepared person? One example is Safety. Often things we learn about safety at work transfer to our personal lives and help keep us safe at home. One of my clients was very concerned about cyber security and required an annual “Anti-Phishing” training of all their employees. Employees always commented afterward that what they had learned would help them protect themselves against fraud in their personal lives.
What Does Growth Mean?
Growth may need to be defined. For some it may mean taking classes (English as a second language, finance, computer skills, etc). For others, it may mean the chance to work on special projects whether work related or helping the organization be a good corporate citizen.
Cultivate is a connector dynamic because it says, “You are not just a number or a pair of hands to us. You are a valuable person.” The return is often increased loyalty to the leader and organization and an increased desire to help them grow in return.”