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(206) 686-4400 ext. 13

Henley Leadership Group Blog

Are you Feeding your Team Miracle Grow or Fish Fertilizer?


My business partner said feeding my flowers with Miracle Grow was like feeding children a sugar diet.

You get lots of activity, but no sustained healthy growth. She uses fish fertilizer, consistently throughout the entire growing season, getting both flowers and strong root systems. I said it doesn’t really matter if they’re just annuals. I want lots of flowers. But this morning, as I completed my summer ritual of applying Miracle Grow, I was reflecting on this and realized I don’t want my perennials and evergreens on the equivalent of a sugar diet. And, why am I doing this when there is a better option? I want long term health and a solid foundation for all the plants in my yard. So, what does this have to with leaders and their teams?
We frequently get inquiries from organizations wanting a three-hour session or a one-day training. They want to fix a challenge or deal swiftly with a problem that has been incrementally getting worse over a long period of time – lack of trust, ineffective communication, lack of accountability, lost sense of purpose or a conflict. They are hoping for the
 Miracle Growexperience when what is needed is consistent long term care and feeding. The Miracle Grow approach is a quick fix that, if done alone, will eventually fail. It is why organizations get cynical about the impact of investing in team development. They invested in an expensive one-day training, with lots of beautiful colorful printed materials, everyone loved it and got a boost of energy. Their group experienced a surge of insights and increased comradery.  But two weeks later, it is as if it never happened. They got the Miracle Grow effect, a burst of activity and color, with no attention to the root system, the very foundation of health. In other words, they wanted to bypass the root cause of their big challenge.

I am not saying there isn’t tremendous value in bringing in a credible three-hour session or one-day training to your organization. I am saying you need to plan for how you treat the whole system, after the surface has been well-cared for. What kind of follow through have you put in place for after the training? What team agreements will you all make to continue to nourish and grow as a team? What system changes or practices have you created that will help you remember when to attend to the foundation of what keeps your team healthy and productive? How are you tending the deeper root system of what you have created?

 Your investment of resources will realize the long-term benefits best if you treat the surface as well as the root system. You will create a culture of ongoing learning, which is the consistent care needed for healthy growth. If you choose to not have follow on training sessions to deepen your learning and team strength, here are a few suggestions to consider that will continue the needed care and feeding of your team.

  1. Schedule a meeting after the training to discuss how you will keep the learning growing.
  2. Make “learning check ins” part of your team meetings.
  3. Agree to a buddy system or learning groups for the first 90 days.
  4. Schedule another short training once a quarter to deepen your learning.
  5. Have each team member identify the two things that will get in the way of using the new learning.

 The Miracle Grow approach is fantastic for short term results and summer temps. If you want your team looking great for longer than three to six months, invest in consistent methods that treat the whole system.