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Allowing Room for Growth

Have you ever had the experience of buying a pot plant that is already too small for its pot or of letting one of your plants become root bound because you never found the time to move it to a larger pot? The result can be stunted growth, unhealthy root structures and you even risk pests and disease from taking over as the plant’s ability to fight then off is reduced along with the amount of soil it has to grow in.

Well, I found this piece  about a pot that expands as the plant grows on http://www.imudesign.org/protoshop/2010/en/products-2010/growingpot-en/.

You simply release a belt around the pot to increase its size and add more soil. The roots remain safe, still inside the original pot so the plant suffers no shock from being repotted. What a fabulous idea! Don’t know if you can get them in Australia yet . . . will have to watch out for them.

So what’s the workplace equivalent? Well, I talk about the 3Rs of engagement as being “the right person, in the right job, with the right manager”. 

You need to give that person room to grow and a job that allows them to grow. I don’t know how many times in my career I have been offered positions where clearly my opportunity for growth was limited.I would have been the human equivalent of root bound within 6 months.

When working in Human Resources I also had lots of line managers who were only interested in employing people who could “hit the ground running” and do the job efficiently from day one. This might seem good in the short term but if you want people to stay you had better have some opportunity for challenge and growth.

Some of these managers couldn’t understand when candidates either knocked back the offer or were looking for a promotion or transfer within the first year.

That doesn’t mean you need to have a highly structured system for growth because not everyone wants to grow in the same way. Especially with young people just starting out in their career, you might want to make allowances for them to grow in several directions and see which one suits them when the time comes.

Another problem I see is making the growth opportunity such a shock to the system that people can’t handle it. Like the innovative pot I found, we need to find ways to ease people into roles so they don’t get a complete shock to their system.

Moving into your first leadership position is a classic example. You can’t expect someone to go from employee one day to leader of a team the next without a few steps inbetween.

Let them shadow another leader, send them on some training, give them a small project, etc, etc. That way they get to grow but don’t suffer repotting shock!

Karen Schmidt describes herself as a workplace gardener who is on a mission to grow managers into engaging leaders. The seeds for her role as a speaker, workshop leader and facilitator were planted early in her career when she encountered disengaging managers and colleagues who were performing below their capabilities. In order to help people to not just survive but thrive at work, she made it her goal to grow herself into an employee engagement expert.More information can be found at her website: www.letsgrow.com.au

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