White collar, green fingers

2005

To exert your authority up the corporate ladder, make sure its bottom rungs are on firm ground. If you feel destined for better things and believe that your talents alone will provide the impetus, you may hit the ground - hard.

The influence you exert on producing a quality environment not only demonstrates your readiness for more fertile grounds, it provides an ongoing legacy for your talents and your reputation.

Whatever you want to achieve, make creating the right environment a priority. You wouldn't try to grow a rose garden in concrete. Don't try to develop success with a concrete mindset.

It's not about your physical environment necessarily, although understanding the ergonomics of your environment is important. But even with the right chair, sitting at the perfect desk with the posture of a yogi, you still need the right emotional, social and political environment.

You can't design and assemble a compelling picture puzzle until you define the picture. Your environment must support organisational, departmental and individual goals. If you think you can get away with a one-size-fits-all environment with a smile of righteous satisfaction and impending plaudits, then prepare for a massive disappointment. You can't!

Make developing a compelling vision a priority. Forget the meaningless mission statements that are too often designed to impress customers or shareholders rather than the people that truly need to be inspired, employees. I am all for aesthetic flights of fancy, but save them for your first romantic novel; they are more likely to promote cynicism rather than devotion among your workforce.

If the corporate vision doesn't inspire, write one that does.

Think of it like a pocket-mentor that aids better and faster decisions. Don't impose a list of technical rules and regulations that tell people how to do their job or they will resent it. Do develop a philosophy that guides and trusts people to make the correct decisions because they understand how everyone benefits by supporting the system.

Keep it simple and don't be afraid to use innovation to inspire the point. I have chosen our mythical garden as a starting point and presented some questions you need to ask to develop your environment.

Understand what you want to achieve, first : Unless you are developing a garden to support an aesthetic principle it will have a commercial goal. What must it produce, how much and how often? How will it benefit other business interests?

What resources will the garden need? : What kind of physical environment does your garden need? A back yard tomato patch aimed at locals will need a completely different environment from hothouse flowers for horticultural research. Where will you get the initial investment required? How quickly will it begin to pay for itself?

How will you nurture it? : What kinds of people, tools and skills are required to support your garden? What special knowledge will each person need to fulfil his or her role? How will you know when they are ready to learn new skills? Will your garden provide enough revenue to maintain it?

What tools do you need to assess its health? : How will you monitor changing conditions? Remember you will need to consider the seasons and resources available and adjust accordingly.

How will you deal with frost? : There will always be unexpected factors outside your control. How will you deal with them? What contingencies are in place for a summer frost? How will you deal with internal disagreements?

How will you cope with outsiders? : Visitors or outside contractors may be required to visit your garden. Will they share or understand your vision? How will you enforce your environmental vision while making sure that all feel welcome and able to fulfil their function? How can you convince others to adopt your best practices?

Your environment is a living thing; do you have rules that allow it to adapt? : Consider appointing someone with responsibility and authority to adapt your garden's output when needed. You want to create an ecosystem beyond any one individual, which includes you, so be sure to allow for change, both good and bad.

Lastly, don't forget to regularly reward those responsible for maintaining your environment. If they lose interest, the garden dies along with your reputation. Be ruthless with weeds, but don't be afraid to encourage each new bud with a little pep talk.

When your garden's in full bloom, it won't be the only thing smelling of roses.

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About The Author

René Da Costa
René Da Costa

René Da Costa is an author and consultant.