Category: Organizational Development


Systems Context: “The Systems that Govern Behavior”

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Join us on Thursday, March 21, 2024 from 10:30 to 11:00 CDT for the third webinar in Humaculture, Inc.’s “Optimal Behavior: Making Optimal Behavior the Natural Choice.” You will learn why and how the Systems employed in an Organization impact performance and well-being and how they can be used to grow capabilities, inspire motivation, overcome barriers, and resist temptations to lead to Optimal Behavior.

Presenters

Objective

In this fourth session in our series on optimal behavior, we explore how the Systems context influences behavior and change. To be able to evolve towards optimal behavior, people need to be surrounded by Systems that support them on their journey. The Systems context contains all the tools and guidelines that help us on our way every day. In the workplace these are policies and procedures, enterprise resource management Systems, pay, benefits, and rewards, as well as that curious thing we often refer to as “the way we do things around here.” Anything that signals the optimal way to behave in each Organization. If any of those Systems are misaligned with the Optimal Behavior you’re trying to achieve, your change efforts will fail. The Organizations that recognize this know how to adjust those Systems, including when to bring things into the public eye and when to keep them quiet. They will also be aware that rewards for engagement need to drive intrinsic motivation if the organization is to develop optimal habits that last.

“A bad system will beat a good person every time.” – W. Edwards Deming

Systems Context to Promote Optimal Behavior Key Takeaways

Join us to learn:

  • How ineffective organizations employ Systems that:
    • Limit growth and development
    • Lead to discouragement and apathy
    • Create unintended barriers or temptations
  • How effective organizations:
    • Build habits into processes
    • Provide meaningful rewards built on recognition and appreciation
    • Balance private correction and open dialogue

Available Support

We are available to support you in your strategy, design, compliance, financial, and monitoring needs. Our team includes business and human relations leaders, finance experts, actuaries, clinicians, behavioral health experts, pharmacy experts, and legal resources to guide you through the strategy and compliance process. Please contact us: [email protected].

Webinar Replay: Context of the Self: “The Complexity of Each Person”

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Watch a replay of the third webinar in Humaculture, Inc.’s “Optimal Behavior: Making Optimal Behavior the Natural Choice” to learn why the self can hamper performance and well-being and how to help People to grow capabilities, inspire motivation, overcome barriers, and resist temptations in order to lead to optimal behavior.

Presenters

Objective

In this third session in our series on optimal behavior, we explore how the Context of Self influences behavior. To be effective within the Organization, People need to know and manage themselves through their own narrative and understand the same for the People around them. Organizations fail to use narrative stories to connect People to the meaning of changes they are trying to make. Organizations shy away from giving People constructive feedback, yet People need feedback to Grow. Organizations fail to articulate the reason the Organization exists and how People connect with it. To inspire people to perform, Organizational purpose needs to be clear and create emotional attachment, driving motivation. Finally, Organizations associate fun as something that happens outside the workplace and having fun is regarded as unproductive. However, scientists have discovered that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain, unless it is done in play, in which case it only takes 10 to 20 repetitions.

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Albert Einstein

Context of Self to Promote Optimal Behavior Key Takeaways

Join us to learn:

  • How ineffective organizations:
    • Don’t understand how People change behavior
    • Don’t Grow Capability and Confidence to change
    • Don’t motivate and inspire change
    • Don’t recognize how People inhibit sustained behavior change
  • How effective organizations:
    • Grow competence in change resilience
    • Inspire and motivate
    • Deploy change sustaining reinforcement tools

Available Support

We are available to support you in your strategy, design, compliance, financial, and monitoring needs. Our team includes business and human relations leaders, finance experts, actuaries, clinicians, behavioral health experts, pharmacy experts, and legal resources to guide you through the strategy and compliance process. Please contact us: [email protected].

Watch

Watch the Career Planning: Effective Pruning Bears Fruit: Manager Development Webinar Replay via Rumble.

Context of the Self: “The Complexity of Each Person”

WP_January_2024

Join us on Thursday, January 18, 2024 from 10:30 to 11:00 CDT for the third webinar in Humaculture, Inc.’s “Optimal Behavior: Making Optimal Behavior the Natural Choice.” You will learn why the self can hamper performance and well-being and how to help People to grow capabilities, inspire motivation, overcome barriers, and resist temptations in order to lead to optimal behavior.

Presenters

Objective

In this third session in our series on optimal behavior, we explore how the Context of Self influences behavior. To be effective within the Organization, People need to know and manage themselves through their own narrative and understand the same for the People around them. Organizations fail to use narrative stories to connect People to the meaning of changes they are trying to make. Organizations shy away from giving People constructive feedback, yet People need feedback to Grow. Organizations fail to articulate the reason the Organization exists and how People connect with it. To inspire people to perform, Organizational purpose needs to be clear and create emotional attachment, driving motivation. Finally, Organizations associate fun as something that happens outside the workplace and having fun is regarded as unproductive. However, scientists have discovered that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain, unless it is done in play, in which case it only takes 10 to 20 repetitions.

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Albert Einstein

Context of Self to Promote Optimal Behavior Key Takeaways

Join us to learn:

  • How ineffective organizations:
    • Don’t understand how People change behavior
    • Don’t Grow Capability and Confidence to change
    • Don’t motivate and inspire change
    • Don’t recognize how People inhibit sustained behavior change
  • How effective organizations:
    • Grow competence in change resilience
    • Inspire and motivate
    • Deploy change sustaining reinforcement tools

Available Support

We are available to support you in your strategy, design, compliance, financial, and monitoring needs. Our team includes business and human relations leaders, finance experts, actuaries, clinicians, behavioral health experts, pharmacy experts, and legal resources to guide you through the strategy and compliance process. Please contact us: [email protected].

Webinar Replay: Spaces Context: “Grow a Willow in a Desert? The importance of Spaces”

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Watch a replay of the second webinar in Humaculture, Inc.’s “Optimal Behavior: Making Optimal Behavior the Natural Choice” to learn why spaces can hamper performance and well-being and how to design your spaces to lead to optimal behavior.

Presenters

Objective

In this second session in our series on optimal behavior, we explore how spaces influence behavior. The physical space in which you work can elicit mental and physical reactions that impact positively on performance, mental wellbeing and physical health. Today, physical configuration of buildings reflects a bias toward human energy conservation—and against physical activity, thereby contributing to sedentary behavior which has been linked to nearly all costly lifestyle diseases. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 30% of new or remodeled office buildings show signs of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) and that between 10% and 30% of the occupants of these buildings are affected by SBS, e.g. lethargy.

Research further indicates that your physical space can have a positive effect of up to 22% on a range of performance indicators, such as improved concentration, focus, collaboration, learning and cognitive control (working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility). Furthermore, loyalty to an organization is increasingly determined by social and place attachment.

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us.” –Winston Churchill

Shaping Spaces to Promote Optimal Behavior Key Takeaways

Join us to learn:

  • Why spaces do not support well-being and may lead to sickness
  • Why spaces hamper performance
  • Why spaces are built counter to tasks
  • How effective spaces can be designed to:
    • Support healthy behavior and choices
    • Improve innovation and performance
    • Support efficient task completion

Available Support

We are available to support you in your strategy, design, compliance, financial, and monitoring needs. Our team includes business and human relations leaders, finance experts, actuaries, clinicians, behavioral health experts, pharmacy experts, and legal resources to guide you through the strategy and compliance process. Please contact us: [email protected].

Watch

Watch the Optimal Behavior: Spaces Context: “Grow a Willow in a Desert? The importance of Spaces” via Rumble.

Spaces Context: “Grow a Willow in a Desert? The importance of Spaces”

Spaces Context Image

Join us on Thursday, October 19, from 10:30 to 11:00 CDT for the second webinar in Humaculture, Inc.’s “Optimal Behavior: Making Optimal Behavior the Natural Choice.” You will learn why spaces can hamper performance and well-being and how to design your spaces to lead to optimal behavior.

Presenters

Objective

In this second session in our series on optimal behavior, we explore how spaces influence behavior. The physical space in which you work can elicit mental and physical reactions that impact positively on performance, mental wellbeing and physical health. Today, physical configuration of buildings reflects a bias toward human energy conservation—and against physical activity, thereby contributing to sedentary behavior which has been linked to nearly all costly lifestyle diseases. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 30% of new or remodeled office buildings show signs of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) and that between 10% and 30% of the occupants of these buildings are affected by SBS, e.g. lethargy.

Research further indicates that your physical space can have a positive effect of up to 22% on a range of performance indicators, such as improved concentration, focus, collaboration, learning and cognitive control (working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility). Furthermore, loyalty to an organization is increasingly determined by social and place attachment.

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us.” –Winston Churchill

Shaping Spaces to Promote Optimal Behavior Key Takeaways

Join us to learn:

  • Why spaces do not support well-being and may lead to sickness
  • Why spaces hamper performance
  • Why spaces are built counter to tasks
  • How effective spaces can be designed to:
    • Support healthy behavior and choices
    • Improve innovation and performance
    • Support efficient task completion

Available Support

We are available to support you in your strategy, design, compliance, financial, and monitoring needs. Our team includes business and human relations leaders, finance experts, actuaries, clinicians, behavioral health experts, pharmacy experts, and legal resources to guide you through the strategy and compliance process. Please contact us: [email protected].

Webinar Replay: Creating the Conditions for Optimal Behavior

Watch a replay of the first webinar in Humaculture, Inc.’s “Optimal Behavior: Making Optimal Behavior the Natural Choice” to learn why organizations don’t effectively execute change and be introduced to some of the concepts that facilitate optimal behaviors to support a high-performing culture.

Presenters

Objective

This is the introductory webinar in our new series on optimal behavior. We explore why people have difficulty in achieving and sustaining change, the difference between short term changes in behavior and long term change through habits, what it takes to achieve optimal behavior in a population, and how to use influence to create a high-performing culture.

Creating the Conditions for Optimal Behavior Key Takeaways

During this session, participants will learn that:

  • Why people find it hard to behave optimally
  • Why people behave inconsistently
  • Why organizations fail to execute change effectively
  • How effective organizations:
    • Set the contexts to influence behavior
    • Understand the powers that influence behavior
    • Use influence to create a high-performing culture

Available Support

We are available to support you in your strategy, design, compliance, financial, and monitoring needs. Our team includes business and human relations leaders, finance experts, actuaries, clinicians, behavioral health experts, pharmacy experts, and legal resources to guide you through the strategy and compliance process. Please contact us: [email protected].

Watch

Watch the Career Planning: Effective Pruning Bears Fruit: Manager Development Webinar Replay via Rumble.

Introduction: Creating the Conditions for Optimal Behavior

WP_August_2023

Join us on Thursday, August 24, from 10:30 to 11:00 CDT for the first webinar in Humaculture, Inc.’s “Optimal Behavior: Making Optimal Behavior the Natural Choice.” You will learn why organizations don’t effectively execute change and be introduced to some of the concepts that facilitate optimal behaviors to support a high-performing culture.

Presenters

Objective

This is the introductory webinar in our new series on optimal behavior. We will explore why people have difficulty in achieving and sustaining change, the difference between short term changes in behavior and long term change though habits, what it takes to achieve optimal behavior in a population, and how to use influence to create a high-performing culture.

Creating the Conditions for Optimal Behavior Key Takeaways

During this session, participants will learn that:

  • Why people find it hard to behave optimally
  • Why people behave inconsistently
  • Why organizations fail to execute change effectively
  • How effective organizations:
    • Set the contexts to influence behavior
    • Understand the powers that influence behavior
    • Use influence to create a high-performing culture

Optimal Behavior: Making Optimal Behavior the Natural Choice

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Please join Humaculture, Inc. and Virtuositeam for our Humaculture® Perspective Series on Optimal Behavior. This series will focus on how to create the conditions to Make Optimal Behavior the Natural Choice.

Overview

In this webinar series, we explore ways organizations can incorporate research-based, practical approaches to nurture and support optimal behaviors. Optimal behaviors are those that are the most beneficial to the individual as well as the organization.

Horticulturists consider the impact of the conditions in which plants are grown (e.g., climate, soil structure, space and fertility, arrangement, companion planting). Growth and productivity improve when the context of each dimension is appropriately addressed, and the responses of each plant to these conditions are clearly understood and applied. Expertise from fields like botany and soil sciences provide the successful horticulturist with the information to do their jobs well.

Similarly, Humaculturists consider the Seven Dimensions of Humaculture® to employ knowledge solidly “rooted” in science for the best results. Behavioral Research Applied Technology Laboratory (BRATLAB), Virtuositeam’s research arm, set out to answer some crucial questions related to understanding changes in behavior and habit creation:

  • Which habits really matter, and to what degree, to the three biggest hidden drivers of sustained performance at work, human health, happiness, and security?
  • How do we support people to practice these habits in a way that they experience as easy and natural, and that leaves them feeling highly engaged with their employer?

Four Powers Model of Change

The result: the Four Powers Model of Change. This model helps organizations create a thriving culture by leveraging this key distinction: how people THINK they behave and make decisions, versus how they ACTUALLY behave and make decisions. Four Powers is based on behavioral theories and validated research from a variety of leading thinkers, behavioral research laboratories, and BRATLAB’s own extensive field testing. BRATLAB looked across industries to find the influence techniques that have been successfully used to shape employee and customer behavior for years.

The topics for the upcoming series will include:

August 24, 2023 – 10:30-11:00 CDTIntroduction: “Creating the Conditions for Optimal Behavior”
October 19, 2023 – 10:30-11:00 CDTSpaces Context: “Grow a Willow in a Desert? The importance of Spaces
January 18, 2023 – 10:30-11:00 CDTContext of the Self: “The Complexity of Each Person”
March 21, 2024 – 10:30-11:00 CDTSystems Context: “The Systems that Govern Behavior”
May 16, 2024 – 10:30-11:00 CDTSocial Context: “How People Influence Each Other”
July 18, 2024 – 10:30-11:00 CDTHarvest Time: “Reaping the Fruit of Optimal Behaviors”

Prior Series

Available Support

We are available to support you in your strategy, design, compliance, financial, and monitoring needs. Our team includes experts in organization design, actuarial science, clinical, and legal can guide the process to achieve optimal behavior. Please contact us.

Employee Benefits – The Humaculture® Perspective

Photos above: Just as different plants thrive in different soils, different people also thrive in different organizations. Aloe vera thrives in thin, rocky, dry soil. Similarly, there are also certain organizations that employ people who may primarily have access to benefits through a spouse or parent and don’t require rich benefits. Other organizations may need moderate benefits (like drip irrigation on grapes) designed and structured to nurture them to thrive properly. Still other organizations may require benefits designed to protect and nourish employees, much like lettuce requires mulch and abundant moisture.

Did any person, or any organization, ever become great by striving to be average? Many business leaders instinctively look at what every other organization in their particular industry is doing, then defensively adopt benefits that make their organization “competitive” with their peers. But, does this approach really make an organization distinctive and magnetic to talented people who will lead to success? Is it really a good idea to attract employees who are concerned primarily about benefits?

Understanding the Nature of the Organization – Vision, Mission, and Strategy

The horticulturist understands that different plants, different production goals, and different climates require soils to be built in specific and intentional ways. Each planting bed is designed with climate, soil texture and drainage, fertility, pH, and other factors in mind based on the types of plants and crops desired. So, the successful horticulturist begins with a vision and mission, then develops a strategy based on the vision and mission while considering climate and available resources. While other inputs may be required (irrigation, support, row covers or other protection), the soil is the key. Without well designed soil one can typically expect mediocre results at best. The most successful gardens “feed the soil, not the plant.” A well-chosen plant in well-designed and prepared soil will naturally thrive and produce the desired fruit.

To be successful and highly effective, organizational leaders must take a similar approach. Each organization has different goals, different purposes, and operates in different business, social and legal environments. All of these factors will have tremendous impact on how the organization is able to attract, engage, grow, retain, sustain, and transition employees or other people who will in some way be a part of, and grow, in the organizational “soil.” Many leaders have at least some idea of their organization’s vision and mission, even if only informally. They also know they need the “right” employees to carry out the strategy to accomplish the vision and mission, so much so that the focus becomes “feeding the plant, not the soil.” But failing to understand the importance of building a good organizational “soil” substantially reduces the effectiveness of recruiting, compensation, benefits, well-being initiatives, engagement, safety, and any other perk or program directed at employees.

Pitfalls of the “We Offer Excellent Benefits” Approach

One large health system sought to have only the “very best” benefits, desiring to be viewed as cutting edge to potential employees and to motivate current employees, which is popular among progressive and innovative organizations. The health system combined the Paid Time Off (PTO) benefits for 7 recently integrated entities by adopting a richest benefit approach. This put the new, larger system above the 75th percentile of its peers. However, the workforce plan and job designs did not allow employees to effectively use those benefits, which led to a lot of frustration and inequitable use. It’s a little like over fertilizing plants, they may be “burned” by the excessive fertilizer. The intent of PTO is to recharge and re-energize people so they can better perform in their job. In this case, the employees felt resentment over a benefit they couldn’t readily access and still meet the patient and business needs of their jobs. There must be an appropriate balance between no time off and full time off. It is important that the PTO be designed for optimal performance. The strategic workforce plan and jobs should then be designed for the level of time off provided (e.g., preparing organizational “soil” to allow the employees to use the PTO benefit to help them thrive).

Similar scenarios are repeated in many organizations, especially as organizations look to benefits and other benchmark surveys to guide their benefit choices. So often, organizations implement or modify benefits programs based on benchmark studies, then struggle with high benefits costs and look for the latest “cost containment” measures, programs, or services. For example, a large utility maintained a traditional sick leave program to remain “competitive” with its industry peers. The 100% pay replacement led to over-utilization, excessive costs, scheduling challenges, and increased time to manage employee relations issues related to absence. It simply became much harder to manage and was not attracting and retaining the employees who would best thrive and contribute to continue to build the organizational “soil.” Yes, “everyone else” was doing it but the choice to be average led to high costs and failed to make this organization distinctive and magnetic to the employees who could best produce the intended “fruit” and nourish the “soil”.

How We Design Benefits from a Humaculture™ Perspective

Humaculture™ recognizes that the organization itself is the key to a thriving, engaged, and contributing workforce that leads to success. Benchmarks are good against which to test designs and cost levels to assure they are distinctive and magnetic, but the designs should first support the vision and mission of the organization. While many advisors may suggest, for example, a healthcare organization should provide rich health care benefits, the Humaculture™ approach would view it a little differently. Humaculture™ would focus on the vision to model healthier behaviors, understand the consumer choices their patients are making, and differentiate the type of talent that may choose their organization (e.g., make the benefits less rich for those who aren’t willing to engage in healthier behaviors).

Such a design would support the organization’s effort to attract, engage, grow, retain, sustain, and transition employees who will buy-in to the vision and mission, be fruitful, and contribute to the tilth of the organizational “soil.” Well-designed soil requires fewer inputs of fertilizer, pesticides, water, etc. to successfully produce a crop. Likewise, well-designed organizations, including benefits and compensation that are aligned to support the vision and mission of the organization, will have much lower costs and achieve greater results than those organizations who “burn” the employees with rich or misaligned benefits. For example, one health plan had a copay for emergency room (ER) visit but applied the deductible and coinsurance for office visits. After switching the design to copays for office visits and increasing the ER copay, ER utilization dropped by 20% and non-emergent ER costs dropped by 99%. Overall, the broader behavioral redesign rolled back the cost levels 3 years of double digit increases without increasing plan participant costs.

So, what steps should be taken to design and implement benefits that support the organizational vision and mission, as well as reduce costs and support employees who thrive? How should you begin to develop an effective Humaculture™?

  1. Either develop or formalize and articulate the Organization’s vision, mission, and strategic priorities.
  2. Consider and design benefits that support the vision, mission, and strategic priorities.
  3. Optimize benefit design by applying principles of behavioral economics and choice architecture.
  4. Develop metrics that will provide actionable insights into the performance of the benefit designs.
  5. Evaluate benefit effectiveness relative to vision, mission, and strategic priorities and performance.
  6. Modify designs accordingly and continue to measure and evaluate.

Applying these Humaculture™ principles will move your organization toward providing fertile “soil” for employees, reduce benefit costs (even before “cost management” techniques or services are used), and contribute to a much more productive and profitable organization. Please see our real world applications of this approach and the outcomes achieved with time off, health care, and financial well-being benefits. Take the Humaculture™ Benefits Assessment to conduct a high level analysis of how you are doing.

About Humaculture, Inc.
Humaculture, Inc. transforms organizations—the way organizational leaders understand the organization and the relationships among the people in it, and the way people think about their position and role in the organization. Humaculture™ is a philosophy and systematic approach for creating profitable, aligned, and healthy organizations conceptualized as “soil” in which people can thrive. Humaculture™ helps organizations create the right culture in order to naturally attract, engage, retain, sustain, grow, and transition people who enable the business—and each other—to thrive. More information can be found at: Humaculture.co. Learn more about our team at https://humaculture.co/who-are-we/.

Authors:
Wes Rogers, Chief Guidance Officer for Humaculture, Inc. Wes has almost 35 years’ experience in consulting and senior management positions with a variety of organizations, facilitating groups of people with diverse perspectives and objectives to coalesce around a singular vision and marshal resources to achieve the vision. This experience provides exceptional insights into how organizations operate and succeed.  Contact Wes at [email protected].

Steve Cyboran, ASA, MAAA, FCA, CEBS, Chief Behavioral Officer, Consulting Actuary for Humaculture, Inc. Over the past 30 years, Steve has worked extensively with leading corporations, higher education institutions, and health systems across the country to articulate a vision for a healthy and effective workplace culture, develop a total rewards strategy to support that vision and brings deep benefits expertise with a behavioral approach and sound analytics to achieve and measure the desired outcomes. Contact Steve at [email protected].


 

Leadership & Tomatoes: 3 Business Principles from My Garden

About 1 in 3 people aspire to a leadership role in business.1 About 1 in 3 people grow a kitchen garden.2 The motivation is the same with both demographics. What is it? The tomatoes, of course. Business success. The harvest.

In turn, successful businesses and successful gardens also have something in common: the people who are rooting (pun intended) for it all to be a thriving ecosystem, resulting in a bountiful harvest for everyone.

Over the years, I have observed that many horticulture principles can provide insights and understanding to help those in leadership build more successful organizations.

Leadership Principle #1 — First build the soil.

Without first building healthy soil, gardening is unlikely to be successful. Well-prepared, deep garden soil gives plants the best opportunity to grow a strong root system.

In my garden, I till the soil each spring while the temperatures are still dipping below freezing. I add compost, fall leaves, and grass clippings to add nutrients and texture to the soil. I add alkaline wood ash from winter fires to maintain the soil’s pH balance, since I know my iron-laden well water tends to acidify the soil over time.

Well-prepared soil ensures the plants have the nutrients they need. Good soil also maintains a more consistent temperature, and it allows excess water to drain away faster, retaining only a healthy amount of moisture and retaining it longer.

If we think of businesses and organizations as the soil in which we grow and earn our living, we can easily begin to see parallels between a garden and an organization. An organization that is well prepared has sufficient capitalization, delivers products and services consistent with its vision and mission, is conducive to employee health and well-being, has reserves to weather economic storms, etc.

Most new businesses fail because those who form them are focused primarily on the success they hope to achieve (i.e. harvesting a bumper crop of metaphorical tomatoes), rather than first focusing on the soil preparation that will be critical to that success.

Leadership Principle #2 — Support the plants as they grow.

Once the soil is prepared, the hardest work is done. I have created a nutrient-rich, foundational environment the tomato plants can send deep roots down into and draw resources from to thrive.

The Rogers newly-planted tomato garden, with stakes to support the plants as they grow (Spring 2020).

In addition to building the soil, I also have further resources to ensure the tomatoes’ success. I supply supports for the plants as they grow taller and bend under the weight of their fruit. I provide irrigation, giving plants the extra water they need in the dry summertime. I walk through the garden almost every day to identify stressors affecting the plants so I can intervene with extra support if necessary.

Employees—even those in the best-prepared organizational soils—will experience negative stressors and challenges from time to time. Distressed tomato plants, just like people experiencing excessive stress, will never be as productive as they would be if they were healthy, and the quality of what they produce will likely be lower as well. Like a horticulturist walking through the garden, a person in a leadership position needs to be able to recognize when something is preventing the employees within their span of care from fully thriving.

Perhaps the employee is not well-matched to the job; they might benefit from transplanting to another area of the organization. Perhaps some benefits, compensation, recognition and performance management programs, advancement pathways, etc. are not properly designed to align with the organizational vision or mission; more beneficial behavioral designs could be put in place instead. Perhaps there are organizational climate challenges; the team might need special support during especially trying times to overcome the difficulties and thrive.

Often, the problem lies not with the employee, but with the organization and whether it optimizes the availability of its resources so employees can effectively leverage them and thrive.

Leadership Principle #3 — Plants don’t exist for soil; soil exists for plants.

The primary focus of a successful garden is never actually the plants. Plants come and go. If they are happy and healthy in well-built soil, they will thrive and produce a great crop.

Yet I never think of my tomato plants as resources to be exploited. Rather, in partnership and anticipation, I provide them with great soil and support them as they grow and produce. Most of my effort is directed into building the soil for the plants and making sure they have everything they need to thrive; the plants themselves do the rest. Both my tomatoes and I work in this gardening venture, looking ahead to the reward – a bountiful harvest.   

One of the most important lessons I have learned from gardening is that just as the plants do not exist for the soil, people do not exist for the organization. Employees—humans—are not “resources” or “capital.” In fact, these terms have come to bother me deeply. “Capital” and “resources” are things an organization owns, rents, or acquires through debt to produce a product or deliver a service. Grouping people into a category of owned or rented assets is very discomforting to the thoughtful person.

Further, I have observed that developing policies and practices based on the analogy of owning or renting people (as the capital/resources terminology implies) leads to confusion on many fronts. Ultimately, it often leads to employees who are demoralized and perform poorly.

So, what if we thought of businesses and organizations as soil created for people to grow and thrive in? What if we thought of the organization’s resources as the support people need to produce abundant value (the harvest)? Organizations do not own employees. Employees are not the resource. Organizations are the soil in which people can root themselves to do meaningful, fruitful work – to grow and to thrive.

Just like I build the soil for my tomato plants because they grow better in a prepared garden, people create organizations of all sorts because we grow better and accomplish more together.

Practical Applications

So, if we change the way we think about organizations and people, how do we also rethink the way leadership handles traditional “human resources” or “human capital” topics (e.g. pay, talent development, performance management, benefits, time off, total rewards, etc.)? In other words, what is the practical application of these principles?

The Humaculture® approach addresses this. In order to apply the concept of building the soil, we first have to ask some questions: Why does the organization exist? What is its vision? In what sort of climate does the organization operate?

After gaining some clarity about these factors, the Humaculture® approach leads us to consider which people will best achieve the organization’s vision and mission (peach trees are unhelpful if the goal is a tomato crop, just as nurses are unlikely to design the best engine for a cutting-edge vehicle prototype).

The Humaculture® approach also leads us to consider what structure and delivery of the organizational resources will allow the people—and, in return, the organization—to thrive and be abundantly fruitful.

It might seem like more work at the outset, but the tomatoes (the fruit, the value created) are always worth it.

1 http://press.careerbuilder.com/2014-09-09-Majority-of-Workers-Dont-Aspire-to-Leadership-Roles-Finds-New-CareerBuilder-survey
2 http://www.farmerfoodshare.org/farmer-foodshare/2017/6/15/gardening-boom-1-in-3-american-households-grow-food

Author:
Wes Rogers, Chief Guidance Officer for Humaculture, Inc. Wes has almost 35 years’ experience in consulting and senior management positions with a variety of organizations, facilitating groups of people with diverse perspectives and objectives to coalesce around a singular vision and marshal resources to achieve the vision. This experience provides exceptional insights into how organizations operate and succeed.  Contact Wes at [email protected].

Contributor:
Steve Cyboran,
ASA, MAAA, FCA, CEBS, Chief Behavioral Officer, Consulting Actuary for Humaculture, Inc. Over the past 30 years, Steve has worked extensively with leading corporations, higher education institutions, and health systems across the country to articulate a vision for a healthy and effective workplace culture, develop a total rewards strategy to support that vision and brings deep benefits expertise with a behavioral approach and sound analytics to achieve and measure the desired outcomes. Contact Steve at [email protected].

Edited by:
Rachel Rogers, Editor for Humaculture, Inc. Rachel holds an A.A. in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in English and Communications. As a published writer with training in creative storytelling and corporate storytelling, her experience with writing, editing, and advising writers includes both technical and academic documents, as well as creative works.

About Humaculture, Inc.
Humaculture, Inc. transforms organizations—the way organizational leaders understand the organization and the relationships among the people in it, and the way people think about their position and role in the organization. Humaculture® is a philosophy and systematic approach for creating profitable, aligned, and healthy organizations conceptualized as “soil” in which people can thrive. Humaculture® helps organizations create the right culture in order to naturally attract, retain, sustain, grow, and transition people who enable the business—and each other—to thrive. More information can be found at: Humaculture.com.

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