I know what you’re thinking, but this is an article about productivity in the workplace. The title is inspired by a parable from the Bible, Matthew 13: 24-30:
“While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together.”
There are obviously several interpretations of such a narrative, but as applied to the workplace, it is a message to leadership. Let me ask you a few questions before we go any further …
- T/F: No matter how much I tell my employees what they’re doing wrong they keep repeating the same patterns.
- T/F: I don’t adjust my approach based on the particular employee to whom I’m speaking, I am who I am.
- T/F: There may be some things going right in the company, but we don’t talk about those things often—we mostly discuss what’s wrong.
- T/F: My employees are always a step out of tune, seem completely oblivious, or sullen and moody.
- T/F: If I didn’t point out what was wrong, my employees wouldn’t know how they need to change.
Ready for your results? If you answered True for all, most, or any of these questions, the problem isn’t your employees, and it’s not you—it’s your perspective.
As leaders and mentors, our success and sustainability—and that of the company—stems from our abilities to make the best of what we have, and who we have. Drawing out the strengths, skills, and talents of others is what makes a true leader great.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses; weeds and wheat. It’s how you choose to look at them that makes the difference. Cultivate the wheat, rather than focus on removing the weeds—play to your employees’ strengths, rather than picking at their weaknesses. Trust me, they’ll appreciate the former much more, and it will yield a far more fruitful harvest.
Don’t waste time and energy fighting a battle that will, if left alone, resolve itself. Nurture the wheat, encourage the good, and the wheat will overcome the weeds (and team) as a whole.
I challenge you to take the approach with your employee development. Consciously abstain from pointing out the weeds and instead focus on building up hard workers, efficient producers, and ethical advocates. Take a look at who is best suited for which tasks. The roots of your wheat will grow stronger, deeper, and faster, blossoming when it comes to your bottom line.
When you’ve tried this exercise and seen the difference it makes, even in small doses, I hope you’ll reach out to schedule a Predictive Index for your entire team. The PI is a behavior analysis assessment which pinpoints an individual’s professional strengths and weaknesses, helping people of all types work comfortably and happily together.
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I look forward to collaborating with you soon.