I recently spent the first two weeks of July sick in bed with full blown pneumonia. After the first week of disgusting had come and gone, Amber came to visit me and from the other side of the screen door, left me popsicles, (because she knew that’s the only thing I was eating), and some beautiful flowers to pick up my mood. Specifically, exactly two weeks ago and the flowers in the above picture. Amber bringing flowers by in my time of need isn’t a shock, the current condition of said flowers is however the inspiration for today’s blog.
The picture included in this blog is a picture I took TODAY. The colour and life still flowing through the flowers is remarkable. They are vibrant and still holding their shape and not because of some magic powdered formula that came with the flowers. Not because Amber paid an arm and a leg to buy the best flowers a person can find. Not because I have danced a jig every day and spoken kind words to them. I equate the livelihood and the resilience of my flowers to something very similar to what a healthy workplace culture looks like.
First, there is something you need to know about me, I am a generation skipped when it comes to gardening and plants. My mother had an amazon rainforest in the house I grew up in. Both sets of my Grandparents were exceptional with gardens and crops, and in fact, I can vividly remember sneaking so many garden peas from inside my Grandmothers greenhouse that I had a stomach ache, and she couldn’t even tell there were any missing. As for myself, I have one cactus in the bathroom, (because the bathroom moisture will keep it alive when I forget to), and a yard full of dog spotted grass! I have no interest in plants and should gardening come up in conversation, I am fairly speechless-shocker I know!! So how have I been able to keep these flowers alive and vibrant?
Truthfully, keeping flowers alive way longer than they should has been one of my weird talents. Ironically, it resembles why I think I have had so much success with teams that I have managed in the workplace.
When I receive any type of flower, albeit a bouquet from a friend or white roses from my husband, (my favourite BTW), I never use the pre packaged powder that comes with the flowers. Like the teams I have managed, I never use the cookie cutter methods of management or motivation. I believe, people and teams are never cookie cutter or same-same. Everyone is individual and has different needs and opportunities, so we should treat them as individuals.
As soon as I receive flowers I grab a vase and fill it with room temperature water, cut at least an inch off each of the stems at an angle, and then immediately place into the water as they are cut. Like the flowers, many of the teams I have lead I have been given or inherited from someone else’s tenure. I can never know where they were grown or what training they have experienced. I can never assume it was a healthy environment or not. But, once the flowers are mine, it’s my job to ensure that they flourish and live strong and vibrant lives as long as they are with me.
Why room temperature water? When placed in new surroundings, with a new leader, or when they experience change, I try to make sure my team isn’t sent into shock but eased into their new situation or environment.
Why cut the stems at an angle? The angle cut exposes more stem surface and that helps the flower absorb more water, thus keeping it alive longer. In the case of my teams, the more time I spend with them, training, developing, or just getting to know them, the more they develop and grow!
Once my flowers are in the vase I leave them alone for about 4-5 days to do their thing and look pretty! Just before the water starts to stink and smell from the leaves and stems rotting, I pull the bundle out of the vase, dump the old water, fill the vase, cut the stems, and place them all back in the vase again. Checking back in with my employees BEFORE problems or bad habits develop is essential. Cutting bad habits or skills off before they stink up the place is just good business, and honestly, it shows you care about their development.
I will now repeat the above process every 2-3 days for the entire life of the flowers till there is no life in the flower, the pedals fall off, or there is no more stem to cut off. Over the span of an employees employment with you, one of two things will happen-you will leave them or they will leave you! Leaving isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s from development or promotion, sometimes its discipline, retirement, or even death. All relationships will come to an end at one point or another. The life of the relationship should provide both sides with nourishment and enjoyment. Like my flowers, my teams have contributed to my life like I hope I have to theirs.
My flowers are almost at the end of their lifespan, they are running out of stem for me to nurture and maintain, and that is OK because I have thoroughly appreciated the time I have had with them and what they represent. Amber gave them to me to cheer me up because she cared, and the flowers have reminded me of that every day since. I have no regrets about the time I gave to the flowers to keep them vibrant or alive. When my flowers leave, they will leave because the natural course of our relationship has come to an end and it is time to move on. For me, I move on with fond memories of my spirits being lifted. My flowers, well, they get promoted and move on with a new purpose-COMPOST!
Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature! Gerard De Nerval