People Management (Class 101)
"I Can Grow People" by Jason Stevens (a mentor review)
'Five years later’ by Chris Thomson (former mentee of Jason)
To summarise the basic concept of the book what Jason is doing is relating the skills, knowledge and attitudes of ‘a great gardener, who nurtures and grows plants with a great manager who grows and nurtures their people/employees to achieve results.’
Although at the time this was not the direct topic of the mentoring, the details of the book were introduced in the corporate training workshops Jason had been commissioned to undertake with myself and a group of other managers and could be said to form the basis of the workshop programme; it certainly gave me more than just ‘food for thought’ and was useful in that it meant I was able to put a name to, quantify and put more of a structure to what I had been doing myself in my everyday professional life; managing people to achieve company (and personal) goals.
(More on the resources I have utilised previously and since can be found throughout this and my further blogs).
What specifically struck a chord with me was how simplistic the idea was in the first place, take the old recruiter cliché question ‘Describe your own style of Management’ where you invariably get answers that usually revolve around the candidate telling you that they diligently lead from the front (major snooze - but actually correct; this is just what I do want to hear in answer to that question; a bit of a catch 22)
Yes, this book gives you the analogy of getting your hands ‘dirty’ as per the above but for me it is more about the helicopter overview and the simple steps to growing the ideal people ‘garden’ that had me intrigued from the start.
To start Jason asks you to think of gardening first and managing second; ask yourself the following ‘Why is, what if and how would?’ questions;
A fantastic way to focus on something completely different and see the solutions 'botanically' and then translate that back to the management of people. For me there are even a lot of literal applications in these questions; I for example believe looking after yourself physically is the key to good mental health and these in turn mean you can then focus on achieving your professional goals. This is what I promote at work also. Are you feeding and watering yourself correctly; do you even know what nutrients your body (and therefore your mind) actually needs?
Jason then goes on to talk about self-belief and positive mind-set; underlying everything in an individual’s life I believe this is the foundation to success. Obstacles, challenges, mishaps and mistakes all inevitably happen ‘a good gardener gets over and around these things quickly.’ Quickly being key; analyse, learn, move on.
(check out these guys for much much more on this)
Next Jason focuses on reflection asking us to think about how great we are ‘in the real world’
“A gardener’s general behavioural style is one of nurture for the plant (people focused) balanced with a strong desire to complete tasks and achieve results (the gardening calendar or “To Do” list).
Focus too much on one or the other and both will suffer.”
Going on to point out;
“You can’t just shout and push plants around and expect them to grow. The irate, forceful and bullying manager will get nowhere except for an Industrial Tribunal. The old style of managing performance is dead. People generally won’t tolerate a lack of respect and bullish tactics. They will leave you in the end (not the company).”
There are still too many managers that exhibit the above (and worse) behaviours. Managers that have probably been top performers in their field so have gained promotion from this but they have had no real coaching, training or mentoring to get the management status and now that they are there and because of their mentality they think they do not need the training as they have already achieved the promotion. Sad, but true…..
There is a huge amount more information to absorb in the book which I will go into in ‘Part Two’
Get a good look at yourself in the mirror, ensure you have a positive mind-set, learn to understand your team as a garden and feed accordingly (to each plant's own ‘dietary requirements’) learn from mistakes and you and your team will grow!
He may not thank me for this but you can connect with Jason here on Linked In to find out more. Stay tuned for next months instalment!
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