Employee Thrive Tags

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Last week, I planted a couple of herbs: thyme and cilantro. In each of their pots, they had a little plastic stake that provided information about how best to care for them. It noted their full name, height and spread that could be expected, and any preferences that the plant may have for growing conditions. The stake with the thyme plant said “Thyme – English Wedgewood, medium growing mounding perennial herb, likes sun, height 8-10 inches, spread to 14 inches, prefers good soil.”

This tag contains extremely valuable information as it lets us know what the more formal and common name for the plant is, what kind of environment it likes, whether it will be a one season wonder or a joy for years to come and what expectations we can reasonably have for its growth – both vertical and horizontal.

After reading the stake, I had two thoughts… 1. Who doesn’t like sun and prefer good soil? And 2. Wouldn’t it be great if all employees came with a little tag like this?

Just imagine a candidate coming for an interview. “Mary Beth – Mary Elizabeth Porter, wants to be a perennial, better at stretching once roots have grown deep, likes teamwork, prefers verbal affirmation and gentle feedback.” With this kind of data, you would know that she may not be right for the temp position (as it has no permanent prospect) but might be perfect for the job that you haven’t posted yet. You would know that she probably likes learning and really wants to dig in and be competent, before being asked to really branch out. Additionally, you would know she might prefer to have an assigned “office buddy” who can help her learn your culture and that you want to take time to verbalize the great things you notice she is doing, while gently offering correction as needed.

Honestly, this kind of information would save you so much time and allow you to better understand who someone is and what they need. Unfortunately, plants come with tags, people do not.

So, what can be done to fast track your understanding of how best to connect with and care for someone?

  1. Ask questions: One of the best ways to get to know someone is to ask thoughtful questions and genuinely listen to their answers. Asking, “what are the talents you would like to be using more?” would be a great way to find out if there are gifts not being fully used or how someone might like to stretch beyond what is currently being asked of them.
  2. Consider using assessments: In our work, we use different tools to better understand our clients. True Colors, the EQi, Clifton Strengths, and the Style Matters Conflict Assessment all give us different information about who someone is, how they are likely to communicate and “show up” and trouble spots they might run into. These assessments can be used anytime – prior to hiring, as part of a teambuilding or career development strategy, or even just as a one-off opportunity to do a deeper dive. They often reveal information that could otherwise take a long time to organically surface or even reveal potential blind spots and areas of opportunity for growth.
  3. Watch and observe: Another way to learn about people is to observe how they interact, what conditions they seem to thrive under, how they communicate, etc. This method is likely to be a bit less precise than the other two as it isn’t always possible to draw a straight line between what you are seeing and what it means, but it still has merit.

No matter how we get to know people’s individual characteristics, it will always take time and interest. Like my herb plants, relationships will grow at their own speed. But with time, care, and the right conditions, both will yield something truly amazing!