In August, I was in Chicago working with a senior care retirement community in a 53 story high rise two blocks from the John Hancock building and four blocks from Lake Michigan. All the community’s managers gathered on the 53rd floor, overlooking Lake Michigan, for a day focused on building relationships and finalizing their community’s mission and values. One couldn’t have picked a better visual sight for a day of engagement.
I said that values speak to how we relate and connect with each other which enables everyone to accomplish the community’s mission. I suggested to look at their culture as an ecosystem – everything is connected to everything else. No one person is more important than another. They all depend on each other to live and nurture a work culture to accomplish the community’s purpose.
I said managers are like MASTER GARDENERS. Now, I’m sure some of them were wondering where this Iowa farm boy and gardener was leading these big city folks. But, here are the analogies I used:
• Gardeners have to till the soil for anything to grow. Managers have to till the work environment in order to create a healthy work environment.
• Gardeners plant seeds and nurture the plants in the soil. Managers hire the best people and nurture their development.
• Gardeners do what they do to bring beauty to our world. Managers nurture staff so they can nourish those in their care, which is the care of the residents.
Did they connect with the concept of their work culture being an ecosystem? YES!
But, they also realized that our ecosystem changes just as a work culture changes. So, vigilance is critical on their part to ensure they till the work environment with the focus on how it will enable people to provide the very best care for their residents.
Message? Our work cultures are no different than the ecosystem we live in. If we want a healthy work environment, whereby everyone clearly understands how they impact the organization’s mission, then caring for and nurturing of the work culture is vital.