If you don’t pick off the rose after it has bloomed, the stem below it begins to die; if you don’t harvest its vegetables, some plants quit producing. The same is true for those on your team. If you don’t harvest the fruits of their labors, they will quit producing, eventually withering beyond recovery.
There are many ways that managers and organizational cultures ask team members to produce, but then fail to reap. A few follow
I recall the committee at the university that I call the “committee to nowhere” similar to the “bridge to nowhere.” Formed at the request of the institution’s leaders, the committee was charged with looking into how to improve the culture and processes related to customer service within the campus and to external communities. The promise made was that the work would “not sit on the shelf.” After two years of work, pouring time and emotion into the daunting task, the committee’s report sat on a shelf. One of my team members sat on that committee.
Committees should be formed to produce. And the products should be harvested. What are the desired outcomes of the committee (its “fruits”)? How will you harvest?
Individual assignments to team members should come with expected and articulated outcomes. No matter how simple or complex, subdued or grandiose, there should be a “product” that is produced by their effort. Harvest it. Do something with it. Don’t let their efforts rot on the vine. Ask for the results, show appreciation for the effort … there are myriad ways to let the member know that their efforts are going to a purpose, i.e., they have been harvested.
Talents They Have Honed
Every organization says that it wants their team members to use their talents. Quit often, the actions don’t match the actions. Team members have talents that they specifically hone on their own, through professional development programs, with mentors, etc. Their development of talents produces results. Harvest those, too.
A common example is sending members to professional development conferences or workshops, and then not letting them use their new skills on the job, or not letting them push boundaries with new-found knowledge or capabilities. Eventually, they will respond like the dean who refused to go to professional development workshops on fundraising. “I won’t go anymore. The university doesn’t support it here and everyone there has development officers, budgets for fundraising and a supportive administration. We don’t. I won’t go again until we do.”
Interests They Have Fed
They were human beings with interests before they became team members with responsibilities. Let their natural interests grow and develop, and utilize them (harvest) in the workplace. The person who loves to take photographs might want to get the “official” images of the office party; the person with the interest in the environment might want to lead the team volunteer effort for a local park clean up; the person who loves to sing might be asked to do so during a break at the next staff retreat. The list is as endless as your team’s interests.
Allow your team to grow and flourish; don’t put them on a bus for a ride. Think “garden.” You can get brief e-book about the topic at http://www.dionmcinnis.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Grow_Teams_by_Dion_McInnis1.pdf