In April, my husband and I visited Napa Valley, California for the first time and as you would expect, we toured the vineyards and wineries of this region. The first thing you notice in Napa Valley is the beauty of the area – rolling hills covered with grape trellises, classic farm homes, two-lane country roads. It is stunning, simple natural agricultural land at its best.
As we learned about wine making, I was fascinated with the fragile, unpredictable process of growing the grapes. The soil pH must be neutral. The climate characteristics and land elevation must be matched to the specific type of grape. The risks to the crop include frost and pests.
All these variables determine the characteristics of the grape at harvest, and therefore, the quality of the wine. The grower must tenderly, lovingly care for the grapes or the wine is ruined.
“Making good wine is a skill. Fine wine is an art.”~ Robert Mondavi
In leadership, the development of our people is also a fragile, unpredictable process that requires tender, loving care. Every person is unique in their talents, their experience, their perspective, just as the many varieties of grapes.
Every person thrives in different conditions, the climate and soils of their work environment. Every person has been shaped by the seasons of their life – abundant crop years and years of frost and pests.
Are you thinking of your team members this way? Do you think of them as a special, one of a kind, individual? Are you getting to know them well so that you understand their talents, their experience, and their perspective? How much time did you spend with them this week?
Knowing your people well is essential to growing them as leaders. I often say “I must know you to grow you.” If I don’t invest time in knowing you, I will not know how best to coach and develop you. If you don’t share with me your unique self, your perspectives, and your ambition, I will not be able to help you accomplish your goals.
Just as rich, nutrient-filled soil yields good grapes, it is the rich, personal relationships with the people on our teams that yield the best teamwork and the best performance results. Are you investing in your teams to improve the crop yield – the results?
“Making wine is like having children; you love them all, but boy, are they different.”~ Bunny Finkelstein Co-owner of Judd’s Hill Winery
Here is my challenge to you. Over the next three months, spend one-on-one time with each person on your team dedicated personal time where you listen to them, understand them better, and respond to their questions.
You ask the questions and you listen carefully to the answers: How are you doing? What is going on outside of work? What are your challenges at work? What can I do to help you overcome obstacles and reach your goals? Where do you see yourself one year from now?
At the end of the conversation, choose one action item to do after the conversation that will demonstrate your care and concern for that individual. Then watch for the healthy fruit of your efforts.