Green thumb your employees; How to make your employees thrive.

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plantDo you as a leader know why you should know the values of your employees? It will help you succeed in human relations with your staff. It will help you to find rewards and what will keep them safe and secure. The values of a person are like the tag on a plant telling you how to handle it. Does Susie need a lot of positive feedback? Does John need to know that his job is safe? Does Eric need a long term plan? All these answers and more will be answered if you know their values.

Here is how you can read a person in less than 20 minutes.
Sit down with them; get them to write four names on a piece of paper, use a pencil, not a pen. The names should belong to people that have had a huge positive impact on their life, someone they respect, look up to or someone they for some other reason admire. This can be mom, Nelson Mandela, best friends, co-workers, Barack Obama or Bart Simpson. It can be someone famous, fictional or familiar or whatever the person chooses. You should use a pencil because it will lower the fear of misspelling or putting the wrong name on the paper, after all that is not important.

Ask and listen
When the paper with the four names is returned to you, ask them about each one, one at a time. Ask them who they are. Why is this person important to them? Why is this name on the paper? What qualities does this person hold? Ask around get to figure out why this person is on the paper. Write down the values that come to the surface. “I can talk to this person about anything” – Trustful. Do this with all four names. Ask open questions to get them to tell you as much as possible.

By looking in the mirror
The qualities and values that are most repeated might be the values that is the strongest within the person. You tend to like and respect people that display the values that you appreciate yourself. Pick the top 3 most common values and you will have the core values of the person on the other side of the table. People like people that are familiar to one self, or what you would want to be, the most common qualities on this paper are a reflection of the personality of the person, like a mirror in writing.

How to use this
She got legs and she knows how to use them” – A line from an old ZZ Top song, focus on the strengths. This is the key. If safety and family values are strong, the person might need to know that the job is safe, and this is something you should emphasize during talks. If ambitions and winner instincts are strong, they will love to get feedback on how to improve, and when they do great it is important to show that you notice it. It would be a great boost for them to know that they are close to achieving their goals or to beat competition. Others might need a predictable day at the office; others should focus on the well being of others all this will be known out of this piece of paper.

Practice first
Do not do this exercise if you do not know what to do with the results. Practice first with yourself, with your spouse, friends and family. When you get the hang of it, you will get to know one person within a 20 minutes timeframe. Good luck and enjoy the surprising results.

Keep the notes
Keep the notes in a safe place and remember them, these are the plant tag on your employees and you will know how to water them and how much sun they should have. And they will grow and become great faster.

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5 Comments on "Green thumb your employees; How to make your employees thrive."

  1. Frode Heimen | April 24, 2009 at 4:30 pm |

    Hi Jorge. Thank you for reading. And a good point as well. Share your own list/results/values with your co-workers or employees is a good idea.

    Amy S: Great to see that you love this and put it in your toolbox. My employees do like this exercise. I am glad I was able to share something useful 🙂

    Both and for new readers: I would love to hear from you about your experience using this tool. And if you have further questions, feel free to contact me.

  2. In my profession I am often tasked with developing leaders and members of management and this is a great tool to add to my toolbox. It seems to me that this would not be intimidating (if my boss asked me, for instance) and it can bring out really useful information. Thank you for this useful exercise.

  3. This is a great great exercise. I’m immediately going to try it. I assume that it’s also great to share your own list with employees/colleagues.

    Thanks for sharing this excersise!

    Jorge Barba’s last blog post..New research on how insights happen in the brain

  4. Frode Heimen | April 12, 2009 at 7:08 am |

    Hi Tati, I am looking forward to hear about your results 🙂 I would like to know if you got surprised or not. It is a useful exercise.

  5. Hi, I love your article, My Father always cared alot about his employees, I think it is so important to know their priorities, if they are happy they will do a great job , also I will practice this exercise and let you know what happens. – Tati

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