Author: Ms. Kiran Padhi, Law of Attraction Trainer, Certified Life Transformation Coach (ICF) and Certified NLP Coach (Neuro-Linguistic Programming – ICF ACSTH )
Member: L&D Global, Mumbai Chapter

When I was a kid, we used to have a garden at my house. It had a variety of small trees, plants, and shrubs. From gooseberries, guava, custard apple, jackfruit trees to jasmine, violets, firecracker flowers, we had many other plants too including those of medicinal and herbal kind.

Different plants, different needs. My father used to maintain the garden very well and we kids would ‘occasionally’ lend a hand in the maintenance. We moved houses and the beautiful garden remained as a pleasant memory.

A year back, I had this strong urge to have potted plants in my balcony. It looks good right. Takes us a little closer to the ‘nature’ – doesn’t it? So I got a couple of plants and some manure. For them to grow well, they had to be provided with nourishment – water and food (manure). That’s what I remember from my childhood-garden-days. So I would water my plants, add some manure – at my convenience i.e. when I had free time. What else is needed anyway? They get what they want to grow – and so I thought. I wondered why they were not growing.

Few days or I think it was almost a month later, I wanted to check how well they have grown. But alas! They had died and one was totally dried out. I was disappointed. But didn’t they get all that was required? Why did they not grow? I blamed it on the nursery for giving me bad saplings, bad soil, spoilt manure. I left it at that and moved on.

Then recently, once again, I got this itch to have plants. I had a dried up aloe vera, I got some bamboo plant, and some flower plant seeds and started again. I would water them, mix soil, add some manure and observe them daily. I grew attached to my plants and started spending time sitting in the balcony and talking to them literally (yes you read it right!!!). To my surprise, those plants that I thought had dried and died started growing back again and were in much better shape.

So, what was different this time?

It was not just the watering; it was the attention, the care, the interest in each of them and their growth. Some research has been done to establish that plants feel and reciprocate to positive stimulus. There was no “at my convenience” kind of attention or assumption that I knew all, but I had a genuine concern for each of the plants’ individual needs. I read about the kind of plants I had and understood their water requirements were different. I got to know the kind of nutrients that one can add and so on.

Now, you may think about why this story is relevant. Well.. isn’t this true for our teams too?

Assuming that you know what your team member needs may backfire even though you might have the best of intentions as a manager. Each of our team members is different and needs specific attention that would help them grow and be happy at the workplace.

Are we creating such spaces for our teams?

Take a moment to ask – “How caring am I as a manager”- and the first thought that ran across your mind gives you the answer to this question.

There are very simple ways of becoming a caring manager and creating happy spaces for each of our team members. Let’s look at a few:

  1. Know your team members well. Take out time to interact with each of your team members frequently. Not just to get an update on work but to know about their education, their skills, aspirations, dreams, family, friends etc.
  2. Take a genuine interest in the growth and create opportunities for development. When was the last time you had a feedback discussion? Start with a feedback calendar for your team. Give it a fancy name. Say for e.g. “Tim’s Hour” (Tim is the team member of course!) Make it as frequent as possible. Frequent feedback can be tricky though, if you are a critical manager. So, have a healthy dialogue with the team member. Discuss and track progress on previous actions/training/development areas. Keep an inventory of your teams’ growth map and share with your teammates in these discussions. Understand each team member’s development requirement and make it personalized.
  3. Include them in decision making. Start with transparent communication. There are organizations that have performance appraisals in groups and announce increments/bonuses as well. While your company policy might not allow so, but practice a culture of open and transparent communication as much as possible. Share the pressure of timelines; be clear on why project A is more important than project B; discuss management decisions and priorities and organizational goals. This not just makes your team feel important but also makes them as accountable as you are in achieving the desired results.
  4. Appreciation and Gratitude. This is an absolute must. It has to be done timely and frequently. You can’t wait till the year-end to appreciate or express gratitude on a job well done 8 months ago. Be generous in appreciations. Celebrate all those little wins. Appreciation and celebration bring smiles and boosts the dopamine – a hormone that helps us be motivated.
  5. Don’t  hesitate to let go.  Yes, you read it right. Now you will know when to let go if you have practiced point 1 and 2 regularly (or otherwise too). Letting go doesn’t necessarily mean an exit from the organization, it also means, moving them to other teams or projects to help them in their growth.
  6. Seek Feedback. It is important to take feedback from the team for you, else one ends up having blind spots. Be aware and act on your team’s feedback. Let them know that you have taken their feedback seriously.

Be a leader and not just the BOSS. You can’t lead solely based on positional power. Be a people’s manager. If you think about it, this is not so difficult if you make it a part of your work and not look at it as a separate goal to work on.

Take a while to look at yourself and observe yourself in the current state and ask how you can implement these to make a happy workplace for your team members. There is no better time for the action than NOW.

Author: Ms. Kiran Padhi, Law of Attraction Trainer, Certified Life Transformation Coach (ICF) and Certified NLP Coach (Neuro-Linguistic Programming – ICF ACSTH )
Member: L&D Global, Mumbai Chapter