Saturday, May 4, 2013

Results Run On Resources

A friend of mine volunteers at Clark Garden, a pocket-sized town park that is near and dear to the hearts of many local nature-lovers.  Their tulip displays are always spectacular.  This photo is just a peek at the visual feast that delights visitors.  It's my way of saying "Happy Spring!" to my blog followers.  If you can get over to Clark to experience the plantings in person, the weather this weekend is perfect.  Maybe I'll see you there.

I've been so absorbed in new projects that it's been a long time since I just walked in a garden.  But that doesn't mean that I've lost interest in nature.  I also haven't posted on this blog in a while... but that doesn't mean I've run out of things to say on the topic of Remarkable Messaging.   Messaging is an art form, and there's a world of craftsmanship to practice, explore and discuss.  I don't think I'll ever exhaust the subject.  The world is full of opportunities to communicate better. 

Lately I've been quoting one of my many communications mottoes fairly often:  "Results run on resources."  In other words, if we communicate goals to people, we'd better also provide the resources to achieve those goals.  Otherwise, it will be frustrating all around.

Take these flowers in the picture, for example.  They didn't happen by accident.  The landscaper said to the gardeners, "I want a beautiful bed of red tulips right here."  But those gardeners needed resources: tulip bulbs, plus shovels, fertilizer, compost and topsoil.  Clark Garden had to furnish all these items, starting last fall, so the bed could be planted.   Then it had to be cultivated starting in early March.  This required rakes, watering cans, fertilizer and mulch.   With the right effort, and the right resources, the flowers were able to burst out in late April, just when tulip season hit.  

What if the workers went to the shed, and none of those necessary items were there?  What if they had to go search them out at Home Depot, load them into the truck and transport it all back to Clark?  They would be so busy doing their stuff-gathering that they couldn't do their actual gardening.  Spring would come, but the flowers would be skimpy, or scattered, or missing altogether.

Similarly, it's frustrating and counterproductive when leaders ask people to perform a time-specific task, but don't give them the information, processes and systems needed to do it.  When good-hearted workers receive half-hearted guidance, then a sketchy outcome is assured.  Good leaders know how to motivate their followers with focused communication that puts them in touch with the tools they need to do their tasks. 

if you're not getting the results you're expecting, maybe you need to do an inventory.  What's missing?  

  • Are you withholding resources from your people? 
  • Are you unwittingly giving them conflicting messages that confound their efforts?  
  • Are you forcing your folks to work harder to compensate for things you could easily provide?
  • Are you assuming they'll supply what's lacking -- research their own answers, find their own support systems, create their own processes -- to get the project finished on time?  

If you're asking for blossoms without offering bulbs, don't be surprised if you get mud.  And don't take the easy way out and blame the gardeners when the flowers don't grow.  Instead, check your shed.  Take ownership of what is, and isn't, there.  Fuel the results by supplying the resources.

Prize-winning tulip beds don't happen by accident. When they appear, we can be sure that a team has done their work -- and a trusted leader has empowered them with the tools and supplies they need to succeed.