Begin with a seed and a story will start growing…a blog for the end of term!

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A story for the end of term…

As I thought about an appropriate gift for my daughters teachers this week, I found myself thinking back to work. I talk about appreciation and the difference it makes in organisations every day but actually it makes a difference everywhere – the same rules apply.

The majority of people want to be valued for what they do, they want to know that you noticed, that you listened, that you appreciate them and that they made a difference to you in some way.

Chloe-Lou, my eldest, is just about to finish reception and we received her first report last week. All I can say is WOW…I’m not just saying WOW because it was a lovely read, which it was…my main WOW was how well her teacher knows our little girl. This wasn’t just a few lines about how well she was reading and writing. This was a heartfelt, genuine account of the last year interjected with stories. It was my little girls wholehearted journey through her first year at school. This was not a rushed report, this was a considered, genuine, well-written account of observations and interactions (interestingly it was also like reading my own performance appraisal but that’s a different story!!!!). It highlighted so many positives and it constructively gave us learnings to work on which were specific and detailed enough so we know how we can support her more. I love that you could tell how much she was cared for through the words that were chosen and the genuine affection that has existed from the minute she walked through the door last September.

Earlier this week, I caught Chloe-Lou’s teacher and I said thank you. I said some of the things I mentioned above to her face and her words back to me were ‘Ooo I’ve got goosebumps’. I only said ‘some of the things’ as I then wrote a thank you card that said all of the above as I wanted her to be able to read it again if she chose to and to keep it and to remember that she is valued by us and by Chloe-Lou and that she has made a massive difference in creating a really positive first experience of school for all of us. I enjoyed doing all of this. It made me feel great. Chloe-Lou wrote a little card too and really it took no time at all. Our gift didn’t cost much, it was a packet of seeds. A packet of seeds that said on a card:

“There was a child who wanted to write
But didn’t know where to start
Begin with a seed, begin with a seed,
Begin with a seed and a story will start growing!”

Appreciation changes everything in all areas of our lives – with ourselves, with our families, with our friends, with the person in our local shop through to the people we work with in our organisations. It’s a powerful and oh so simple thing, don’t forget to use it!

How do you nurture the dormant seeds in your organisation?

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The rather fabulous Kevin Ames from the OC Tanner Institute delivered his ‘Appreciation Experience’ keynote at an event in Leeds a couple of weeks ago. He is such an inspirational speaker and even though I’ve heard him speak several times now, he inspires me with something new every time. He talked about dormant seeds being brought to life with the right nourishment as an analogy of the people working within our organisations. This really resonated with me. How do we create the right nourishment to help people realise their full potential?

1. Plant the right seeds.

Before a person even joins your company, how do you recruit? Do you recruit based on cultural fit and values? When they join, how are they feeling? If I think about my own experience, it would be a mixture oBlog picture 2f nerves, excitement and expectation but we’re all different. We might be petunias, snapdragons or sweet peas. When we join an organisation, it’s not just about making sure we have the right equipment on our desks, it’s about helping people feel part of the team and the organisation right from the word go. It’s helping people understand how they fit. How do you onboard people where you are? How do you make them feel valued in your team? Here’s a link to a great blog that delves into this in more detail.

2. Water your seeds regularly.

Your watering can is filled with the great work that people do in your organisations.Blog picture 1 All you need to remember is to tell people how they’re doing right from the start, to ask for feedback on how you’re doing as an organisation, to let them know that they’re on track, to spotlight when they live one of your values so they do more of it. When somebody recognises us, we blossom, we flourish and we begin ‘sprouting’ those seeds of potential in an environment of trust. Here’s another blog to get you to focus on the simple things to keep your people watered. When we go out to speak to individuals in large organisations, often the reality can be very different to what you might think it is. Water your seeds, regularly!

3. Keep your seeds warm.

For me this is about opportunity and well-being.Blog picture 3 Essentially caring for your people and providing them with the right environment to want to stay and thrive. If we go back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, are our people’s base requirements being met, how do we know because only then can we encourage our people to really start to grow and develop.

4. Move your seeds to natural light when they’ve sprouted.

So you’ve been nurturing the potential in your people, encouraginBlog picture 4g the day-to-day effort, now you can start seeing the fruits of your efforts as they start to produce results. Shine a light on their accomplishments, show them that you noticed and help those other seeds push through the surface by demonstrating and communicating what great looks like!

5. Maintain and watch your plants.

Plants need care just as people do. Care doesn’t have to be the touchy feely stuff, care can just be the simple act of communicating to your team that you have their back. That you will act with honesty and integrity and talk to them in a respectful way about all the great things they are doing and to be open with them about areas for improvement always being specific so that learning can happen. Be consistent, be sincere, be fair in all of your interactions. Get to know your team, read their signs, talk to them, spend the day with them, give them space to think, to absorb, to learn and to grow.

6. Harden off your plants.Blog picture 5

Help your team navigate the challenges of the workplace. Help them to understand who their ‘go to’ people are early on and let them know that your door is open but you are happy for them to go forth and prosper, to make mistakes and to learn. The workplace is an ever-changing landscape. We need to give our people the tools and the skills to create their own paths, their own futures. Appreciation can change the course of someone’s day and it doesn’t have to cost anything. Always remember that you have this powerful skill on the tip of your tongue!

7. Maintain your plants.

Blog picture 6Maintain the morale of your people and use recognition and appreciation to do it! For most of us, the one thing we feel when faced with change, is a degree of self-doubt. These are the weeds that we need to dig out and remind people that they were recruited for a reason, because we believe in them and the potential they have. You might also read this as weeding out the bad eggs in your organization. Remaining positive and true to myself I would argue here that everyone has potential; every person is a dormant seed that can flourish in the right environment. Maybe appreciation could make all the difference if we do it every few days for even the most challenging of people out there even if it’s your boss, maybe see the difference a little positivity and appreciation can make if you send recognition upwards.

So hopefully I’ve given you a little food for thought there on how you could nurture the dormant seeds in your organization and create an environment and a culture where flowers of every shape and size prosper and flourish!

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