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Availability: The Key to Maximum Yield

Nurture the Emotional Connections Drive Employee Engagement


When I first became a manager, I struggled. I didn't have any training and it was hard. I really feel sorry for the people who worked for me at the time. But one of the first pieces of advice that I got, was that I needed to do more MBWA. Now I had no idea what MBWA meant. And back then there was no Google search that I could quickly do. But eventually I figured out management by walking around and it meant, I needed to be available to people more.

Not that they had to come into my office where there was a power dynamic, but that I had to be out there where they were, available to them, noticing when they needed some extra support and just having conversations showing that I cared enough to take time. Being available to people makes a very big difference when it comes to employee engagement. Now, employee engagement, you know that that's the emotional connection that someone feels toward their organization, that causes them to apply additional discretionary effort.

The most important word in that definition is the word "emotional". It's not just a rational connection because they might get a raise or they might get fired. It's an emotional connection that unleashes that additional discretionary effort. And emotional connections, they don't happen because they like the organization. They happen, because they feel like they have a connection to other humans. They have friends in the workplace. They have managers they can trust. There are people who are helping them to develop and grow and learn and thrive and do better in whatever type of work they're doing.

And it all starts with availability, you get none of the human aspect if everybody's too busy, if people are working in isolation, if there's no one you can go to with your questions, if you feel disconnected from the work itself. Availability makes an extremely big difference. Every person who wears a manager title should look for ways to be more available more often. Some of my friends and family members have ambitions to garden, but they give up about halfway through the season or they don't even get started because they realized that there's going to be some work and they don't want to be out there on a hot day taking care of their garden.

I've eliminated a lot of those problems by gardening in straw bales. But even so, it's really important that I remain available to my plants if they're going to thrive and do their very best. That means, for example, that on early mornings, during a certain part of the season, I have to be out there every single morning looking at the back of the leaves on squash, gourd and pumpkin plants. I have to be out there looking at those plants because there's a certain kind of beetle in this area.

It's a flying beetle, and it if it finds one of these plants, it will lay eggs on the back of the leaf along the spine. And as soon as I see those eggs, I've got to destroy that leaf and I've got to take care of the plant so that that particular bug won't come back. I have to put a little spray on there. It's the one inorganic thing that I do. But if I don't, within three or four days, that bug can decimate an entire garden.

At least all of the squash and pumpkin plants, which for me, are important ones. So I do things like that to take care of my garden. I remain available. If I'm not available. I make sure that the plants are still going to get watered by setting up soaker hoses on timers, or I asked somebody to look out for a certain type of need that they might have in the harvest season. But it's mostly me and it mostly the garden thrives and is very, very healthy and lush and productive because I dedicate myself to remaining available to the plants.

That's my commitment to them. Why would I plant them in the first place if I wasn't going to stick with them? And then I remain available after the products are harvested, the cucumbers or the zucchini or whatever it might be. I want to do something with them. By the way, I have a collection of over 20 different types of zucchini bread. I make it, I give it away, I freeze it and I eat it all year long.

So I've got very healthy, low sugar recipes. If you want anything, hit me up. I'd be happy to share, but I'm available to do something with the produce that comes out of my garden.

Otherwise, what would be the point? It's not just about growing it. It's about that end result that I'm driving for. So I allocate, I budget my time accordingly and I'm available to get ahead of problems. I had a problem this year, my luffa transplants, that's a luffa gourd, it becomes a luffa sponge by the time it's all said and done. Well, my transplants didn't do too well. It got extremely hot, extremely fast, and I think that was part of the problem.

So I had to come in right behind that and do direct sow. I planted seeds into the straw bales and they seem to be doing pretty well. It means that I'm going to be lagging, my growing season for luffas is now cut short by several weeks. So I'm going to continue to nurture these plants and compost them and give them all the love that I can and see if we can't catch up a little bit. When you are remaining available to your plants, you're going to have so much bounty that you'll have more than you know what to do with.

And the same is true in business.

When you are available and you nurture what you've got and you protect your resources, you'll have a bountiful output. You'll have to think of ways to use the excess. You'll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor and do more with whatever it is that you're attempting to grow. You can count on that and you'll want to be able to to be prepared for those beautiful outcomes. Remaining available is a big part of getting the maximum yield.