Give Me Growers, Not Show-ers


Please let me explain…

Today, I was asked, “How do we return to pre-COVID culture and practices?” My quick answer was, “We don’t, and we won’t…it is all slightly different now.” However, that doesn’t mean the magic (in reference to culture and service to clients) of the past is gone; it just means it is different, and how we work needs to shift to re-capture it. This shift, though challenging, presents a unique opportunity for growth and adaptation in our organizations.

Many organizations continue to feel the pressure of post-COVID demands and challenges, such as remote work, limited engagement, the prioritization of self-interest over community interest, etc., and leaders are struggling to navigate this space, regardless of organization type (for-profit, nonprofit, government, education, etc.). However, the magic is not gone; it just needs to be rediscovered, which means there is work to do. Think about the return-to-office work mandates and how some organizations struggle. While there are several reasons why, one of the significant obstacles employees cite is that many leaders and management practices have not evolved despite the shifts and changes that COVID has introduced. There is a belief that people need to return and conform to the expectations at work as if nothing has transpired.

In my conversation today, we discussed how our work needs to shift to rebuild culture and retool our stakeholders. This comment, “I want growers, not show-ers” was about key leaders and board of directors. Specifically, some people may no longer fit the new framework, and how we operated in the past may no longer be relevant or appropriate.

So, what does this mean for organizations? This means that many organizations may need to revisit their operations to determine if they are still relevant and appropriately aligned with their goals based on the conditions of today’s workforce. Many will find that their systems lack integrity because the nature of work, the consumption of experiences/products/whatever you sell (or provide), and the quality of relationships have shifted. I find it very interesting that organizations will shift their pricing, sales models, or vendors, yet many don’t give the same attention to the needs and qualities of their human inputs.

The more time I spend working with teams, the more I realize the importance of exiting employees who are detrimental to the organization to maintain cultural vitality. Do you remember how we used to bounce poorly fit employees around the organization because we believed we didn’t find the job that best matched their strengths? How did that ultimately work out? For many employees, it didn’t. We found many of these people were poor hires in every job we tried to place them in, which carried a high cost in terms of loss in productivity to the organization and unnecessary stress for those working adjacent to the misplaced employee. We did a massive disservice to the organization because we eroded the cultural fabric and integrity of the teams and weakened the system.

So, what exactly is a “grower” and a “show-er”? Despite the ever-slight grin on your face as you read this (and the sheer shock of my audience when they heard this), I am referring to a mindset. I want to prioritize hiring and retaining growth-mindset, curious people over those who believe there is nothing to train them on…they have arrived…and they know everything they need to know. For some of our staff and board members, maybe now is the time to revisit their commitment and contributions to our work community.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am known as a champion of compassionate and heart-felt leadership practices. However, if people can’t meet me halfway and rise to the occasion in light of the abundant support we demonstrate for them, then it may be time to go our separate ways.