For everything a season – even top employee productivity

by on June 29, 2012 · 2 Comments POSTED IN: HR Cafe
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Wasn’t springtime nice? Among its many beauties just past, we enjoyed the flowering of bushes and trees into riots of pink, white, yellow and even blue.

But as you strolled down a blossomy lane on a balmy evening, did it ever occur to you that employees, too, may be “seasonal” bloomers?

Appreciating what is
It’s not a far-fetched idea. A blooming bush boasts its best finery for only a few weeks. And you appreciate it for that. The fact that, the rest of the year, it’s plain old green – or brown, in winter – doesn’t make you want to root it up.

Employees, too, may have periods of extreme productivity – times when they’re “in the zone” and nothing can stop them. Weeks later, though, that bloomer has morphed back into a regular plant, and their manager may be puzzled or even disappointed – but it’s not time to question the person’s value.

The performance cycle
Managers need to understand that every employee, too, has a cycle. If managers don’t get this – if they harbor expectations that employees will always be “in flower” – they run two big risks:

  • Being too hard on employees at times when their performance is merely acceptable (think green leaves), and
  • Failing to do the fertilization and maintenance (think recognition and reward) that will keep the employee healthy and ready to flower when that next breath-taking blossom time rolls around.

Of course, no manager should be expected to put up with persistent underperformance. But managers don’t want to be impatient stewards of their employees’ abilities, either. Think of yourself as a “constant gardener” and you won’t go far wrong.

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2 Comments on This Post

  1. Michael Brisciana
    June 29, 2012 - 2:12 pm

    Dave,

    Wonderful metaphor.  Very insightful.  A related story:  

    I once worked for a talented but unrelenting leader who went “pedal to the medal” all of the time and couldn’t understand that people needed to down-shift occasionally.  I tried to explain to her any number of times that, after a particularly intensive project was completed, it was ok to expect people to “only” give 100% (rather than 120%) for a while, to rest, restore, and renew their energy (to say nothing of the “recognition” aspect that you rightly suggest).  I found it very sad that she could never buy what I was suggesting.  

    People really do have their seasons, indeed.  Thanks so much for putting it in perspective.

    Michael

  2. Michael Brisciana
    June 29, 2012 - 2:12 pm

    Dave,

    Wonderful metaphor.  Very insightful.  A related story:  

    I once worked for a talented but unrelenting leader who went “pedal to the medal” all of the time and couldn’t understand that people needed to down-shift occasionally.  I tried to explain to her any number of times that, after a particularly intensive project was completed, it was ok to expect people to “only” give 100% (rather than 120%) for a while, to rest, restore, and renew their energy (to say nothing of the “recognition” aspect that you rightly suggest).  I found it very sad that she could never buy what I was suggesting.  

    People really do have their seasons, indeed.  Thanks so much for putting it in perspective.

    Michael

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