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  • Writer's pictureKaitlin Henze

How healthy are your roots?


We are approaching the month of June, which in Wisconsin means that it is time to plant my garden. This is one of my favorite times of year because it gives me the ability to nurture and care for a living being and watch it grow! Inevitably every year, one or two plants die or don't produce anything. As I dig them out of the garden bed, I realize that the roots are dried, tangled, or frail,

which makes me wonder "how long was this plant suffering before I noticed? Perhaps if I had a way to examine the roots before the leaves started shriveling or the stems turned brown, I could have saved this plant?"

So why am I telling you a story about gardening?

It turns out that nature provides us with fabulous examples of ways that we can grow our organizations and help our businesses thrive. With dedication and practical resources, we can create nurturing environments that help our employees, products, services, and customers become healthy and fruitful!

As with the plants in my garden, the place to start is your organization's roots. The roots include elements that are often hard to see with data. The most important "roots" to evaluate include:

  1. Your organization's lived culture: This is not what is on a piece of paper. It is how the values are displayed in everyday interactions.

  2. The level of psychological safety: Do people feel comfortable speaking up and sharing ideas without fear of failure or rejection? Or do the same people dominate all conversations and always have "final say"?

  3. Alignment to a common purpose: Does everyone understand how their work contributes to the organization's strategy? Does leadership make intentional tradeoffs to show commitment to the strategy? Or are teams just "doing things" to appear productive without any true purpose?

Have you examined your organization's roots?

If you have not intentionally carved time aside as a leadership team to think about these three elements, I encourage you to rate each of them on a scale of 1 to 5. Any element below a 4 signals a concentrated need for attention.

To go back to our plant analogy one more time, consider the observable and quantifiable aspect of your business as the leaves, stem, flowers of a plant. Even when these elements are doing seemingly well, if your roots are unhealthy, it is just a matter of time before your profit will take a hit, "quiet quitting" will ensue, retention rates will dip, and customer satisfaction will decline.

The best place to start is by developing and activating a strategy that focusses on three core elements

The small businesses that partner with me grow healthy roots by:

  1. Uncovering the root cause of challenges that block progress.

  2. Holding team members accountable through goal alignment and prioritization.

  3. Leveraging the 5 step Continuous Strategy Iteration Process to learn, iterate, and make consistent progress throughout the year.

  4. Dedicating energy and effort to creating a thriving culture through involving employees and customers in the strategy development process.

Click here to download a 1 page strategy activation checklist to help you get started with this work on your own.

The good news is that if you notice unhealthy roots early, you can take action to nurture them back to life. The time, effort, and investment you spend doing this may not have immediate ROI, and I promise it will help your business or team be far more sustainable long term!

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