THE ULTIMATE BLOG ON ALL THINGS HR
& THEN SOME
& THEN SOME
Reaping What You Sow
I have lived in Central Iowa for nearly 2 years. As seasons shifted and the earth thawed this Spring, farmers slowly began to till the land. Espresso-hued soil showed itself to me. Dark, dark soil was being readied to welcome seeds and assist in their metamorphosis. I have never seen dirt this black before. In Texas, it is milk chocolate at best. Now I know why this state’s land is blanketed in crops.
However, limitations do come into play in the form of lack of care, lack of tools, and even unpredictable weather. This year, I have had the privilege of watching crops from the beginning. Corn is in the midst of growth as I write this. Last year was a completely different story. The derecho flattened fields upon fields of corn. I saw it with my own eyes. It was a setback, a devastating and severe setback, to be sure. But I don’t believe it destroyed the heart and soul of the farmers.
Imagine my surprise this year seeing abundantly rich earth and the possibilities to come. From the time I arrived in Iowa to the middle of July last year, I worked from home. This meant I didn’t see the progression of crops. This year is different. This year has been a marvel.
The longer I live here the more I realize this landscape very much resembles the landscape I know of in northern Denmark. It is no surprise then that my great-grandfather, and many other Danes who came to America, chose to settle here. It was comforting to them because it looked like home.
This brings to mind the Danish concept of hygge . The best way I know to describe hygge is that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you are around family and friends, or you are lounging by a nice cozy fire, curled up in your chair.
I mention this because it ties to the concept of employee engagement, which is ever-present in my world. Farmers possess a sense of responsibility to the land and to the crops they grow. The more backbreaking labor a farmer puts into his crops, the more he will likely reap. Undoubtedly my great-grandfather surveyed his fields and derived much satisfaction, pride, and quite possibly hygge.
I liken this to the awareness, care, and action leaders put into employee engagement. The more attuned leaders are, the more significant the outcomes for their organization. The flip side of this is when farmers use too much pesticide, it kills the crops. So when leaders allow toxic environments to persist within their organization, it kills engagement. Furthermore, it most likely kills the engagement of some of the best employees.
I am reminded of one of the questions on the Gallup poll survey—I have the tools I need to perform my job. This could be as simple as a stapler, pens, and paper. Or it could be more complex such as software or training. I often wonder how many leaders are aware their employees do not have the tools to perform their job. Worse yet would be if leaders are aware but do not have the financial resources to provide such tools. And still worse would be if the leaders just don’t care yet still expect the same yields from employees.
Toxic pesticides could also come in the form of throwing employees under the bus or taking credit for employees’ work. Poor or low engagement can be displayed in the form of lack of performance management or micro management. These issues can work both ways. I believe one of the most detrimental acts is negligent retention. This means not managing poor performance or toxic behavior certain employees exhibit which affects coworker productivity and ultimately the organization as a whole.
Farmers learn over time how to effectively cultivate the soil. They recognize weeds and develop ways to prohibit their return. Farmers’ patience evolves and they understand the time and care they take to prepare the earth for planting will result in profitability. Leaders would do well to take lessons from farmers who are agricultural experts.
When leaders commit to comprehending engagement, enacting positive protocol, and taking the reins of responsibility and accountability, the greater efforts employees will employ and hygge will remain ripe. Leaders should pause and think of their organization as a landscape, picturing fertile soil and imagining what the yield could be. Up here in Iowa, the sky is the limit.
Creator: That makes me sound all powerful. I suppose I am in many ways. Hi! My name's Amy and I've been practicing HR for twelve years now. No big deal. I am here to offer fresh perspective on HR topics and topics about the world we live in and life in general.