As I continue to research compassion in organizations and assess best practices for engagement and commitment, I find the term “nurture” being used extensively in the literature. Being an avid gardener, this brings to mind all the strategies a good gardener can do to maintain production.
Sometimes you pull weeds to create an open environment for other plants to stretch and spread. You may routinely fertilize to insure the plants have necessary food to maintain growth and production. You select the fertilizer depending on if the plant is growing or producing. You may mulch so the plant can tolerate periods of drought. If it is necessary to thin plants, you make an effort not to damage roots, foliage or produce from the remaining plants. The weather may challenge your plants and you do what you can to protect your investment. Above all, you check your plants. And you check routinely to observe and assess for the least little deterioration that may indicate distress.
If you want to be a great gardener, you make a conscious decision to care for the plants. If you want a great organization, you make a conscious effort to connect and care for the employees, manage emotions and mitigate response to stressors that are an ordinary part of the organizational business process. An organization by nature changes, shifts, grows and creates new direction based on many internal and external environmental factors. These normal changes may create stressors that impact leadership and employees requiring constant observation, assessment and nurturing to insure growth and production, to sustain the organization, and reduce impact on customers, or in healthcare, to the patients.
Recent studies indicate engagement may not be just about recognizing, providing basic tools and routine feedback. Engagement may also include the need to feel progress or moving forward. What we do with components of compassionate interactions, is help others move forward by mitigating employee responses through awareness of ourselves and others, listening, communicating with thoughtful words, actions if necessary, encouraging and coaching to manage the moment, to help others find the link or motivation to understand and progress.
Caring and demonstrating compassion for others in the workplace is a conscious decision regardless of whether you are an independent contributor or on the leadership team. As you make decisions in the workplace, communicate with others, manage change, redirect, reframe or refocus, are you leaving a trail of unhealthy or weakened plants within your team, colleagues or subordinates? If so, are you making a conscious effort to return and nurture the plants? Are you caring, communicating, and connecting with your work team? Are you creating a nurturing environment so others feel the forward movement to connect and commit to your organization?