In a one-man operation run by only you, while you have to be juggling a lot of tasks, at least you only have to keep tabs on yourself. But in a multiple person operation, encouraging employee growth is the key if you want your company as a whole to grow. Ken Courtright emphasizes the value of “watering your grass” to keep your operation alive and healthy. Have certain departments and divisions of your company been stagnating? Perhaps now’s the time to reevaluate whether they’re getting what they need from you.
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Water Your Grass
This is episode 75. This is called Water Your Grass. I live on a fairly nice piece of property on a private ski lake. I have a pretty good-sized backyard. Because I have not yet trenched the electric from my house to the deck far away from the house, the deck that’s by the water, I have to have that electric line buried 24 inches down. I cannot put a sprinkler system in the frontyard or the backyard. With that said, I love grass but more importantly, when we have company over, I do not want people cutting their feet on dry grass and dry weeds. Over the years, I went out and bought a couple of hundred feet of this expensive garden hose and a 50-pound sprinkler with wheels that propels itself. As it spins at the top, the water pressure spins the top that has a small mechanism inside that turns a little wheel. That little wheel turns these big heavy wheels. This sucker goes hundreds of feet from the house to the deck.
When people come to the house, they look in the backyard and they can see a runway of perfect grass. When I say perfect grass, I mean it’s perfect. On the sides, it’s dead and scorched in the late summer. It’s funny looking. Here’s the point, whether it’s trees, bushes or grass, if you water and fertilize on a regular basis, specifically if you water your grass every single day before 7:00 AM when the sun’s at an extreme angle, it’s not straight down, it doesn’t dry out the water quickly, you let that water get to the roots and you are going to have the perfect grass literally. It has no weeds, no nothing. It’s gorgeous. It’s soft. It looks like a golf course. However, if you don’t water, if you don’t nurture and put your fertilizer down once or twice a year, you’re going to have what I have on the right side and the left side, which you don’t even want to call it grass in late August, September. It looks like a cow pasture.
How does this relate to business? In business, whether you’re a one-man shop or you’re a large company, you have a sales department, marketing department, accounts receivable department and you’ve got different divisions. Many times if it’s a one-man shop, you’re doing it all or you’re doing some virtual assistants, etc. Here’s the point, most businesses do not have time to nurture each division every day. They’re in the battle. Many companies are physically surviving as a company, month to month, payroll to payroll. They’re trying to move the stress of production and performance from one week, one month or one quarter to the next.Most businesses do not have time to nurture each division every day. Click To Tweet
They want to keep breathing. This creates a little bit of a dilemma. It automatically forces companies into reaction mode instead of causal mode. However, Dr. John Maxwell, who has more shelf space in Barnes & Noble bookstore than any author in history, writes that any given individual or any given division of a company can score a 0 to 10 performance score. It is what it is. Let’s say you have a person or a division that is a six. That division is not well-tuned. It’s not functioning on all cylinders. There’s animosity and a tug of war thing going on.
Here’s the reality. A company that is in that reaction mode and survival mode is not going to be able to nurture that person or that division. They’re not going to be able to send them to continuing ed camps and brainstorming sessions so they can get to know each other or send that one individual every week to another continuing ed course. They’re not going to be able to nurture that situation. What can you do? I remember back before we moved from my original house, I was nine years old and we had a heatwave. Our backyard was scorched. It was not green. It was yellow. It would hurt your feet. As a little kid, I did not want to play in the backyard.
I was crying to my mom in the middle of the day, at high noon. She throws stuff around in the kitchen. She stacks her pots and pans or whatever she was making. She runs in the backyard, gets one of those sprinklers that go back and forth that as a kid, you would run through. I call it, set it and forget it. She stuck the sprinkler right in the middle of this dead field. It was not grass. It was dead. I started playing in the backyard and running through the sprinkler. Five hours later, she remembered she had the sprinkler on in the same spot and she comes up to move it. I said, “No way.” Now my friends are over and we’re jumping through the sprinkler.
By 5:00 PM, the grass in that section was almost 100% perfectly green. It looked fantastic in this one square box in the backyard. The rest of the yard was torched. It isn’t the perfect grass that I now have done my middle vein in my backyard, but it was soft and bright green. It looked amazing and I never forgot it. Later I read a John Maxwell book that says, “Any individual, any division of a company with a flash of training, nurturing, love, care, support,” but it’s got to come in a flash. It’s got to be shock and awe. It has to be almost an obnoxious amount of nurturing in a short, condensed period of time. He said, “That division, that person can go from a 6 to an 8 in a second.”
I want to challenge everybody. We did this with a division of ours in our company. There was a group that you could see this division. They would cut and run at 5:00. They couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Everybody was grumpy. We were in tremendous growing pains. We were asking many different people to do many different things. Nobody in that division, not one person was fulfilled or satisfied or even happy with their job. Our Chief Marketing Officer had an idea. Because we stabilize the growth of that division, we gave them a project. We said, “What do you guys want to do?” They came up with their perfect roles, what they thought they were built to do. We brought in outside people to educate us to become masters in this field and set them the task.
We gave them 72 hours, three days to perform something they had studied in a great way and to do it on one of our corporate sites. Meaning, there is a lot on the line. I’m here to tell you. I was told that this division stayed at the office knowing they’re not getting paid past 5:00, they’re salaried people. They stayed until 9:00 multiple days in a row. They were excited. They were jacked about this project. I cannot explain the difference in performance out of that division from me stopping, listening and pounding water and fertilizer down their throat.
I nurtured that division with the actual water and fertilizer they needed, not what I thought they needed. I asked them, “What do you need?” They told us, “We need coaching on this. We need the ability to make these decisions. We need the ability to build these things.” I said, “Okay.” I nurtured that division. The results are astounding. I can’t wait to set a 90-day plan and do this in our four other divisions. You’ve got to take a look sometimes and step back and start spot nurturing and blast nurturing like that sprinkler going back and forth and you soak them. I am seeing if I could sway people to water their grass. Talk to you guys soon. Take care.