Flourishing Landscapes Instead of Dead Wood

How do you moti­vate plants? Some tried and test­ed prac­tices from every­day man­age­ment in hier­ar­chi­cal orga­ni­za­tions can help here. Or maybe not?

You buy a beau­ti­ful flower. Lit­tle by lit­tle the blos­soms fall off and no new buds appear. More and more leaves wilt and the growth remains sparse. What do you do to moti­vate the plant to per­form at its best again?

As an under­stand­ing gar­den­er, you first seek the con­ver­sa­tion and give the flower feed­back on its per­for­mance deficit. Of course, you wrap your crit­i­cism between words of appre­ci­a­tion by prais­ing her progress in foliage per­for­mance, where last month it showed a small increase of 7.5%. The recent sem­i­nar “Giv­ing the Right Feed­back — Reap­ing Max­i­mum Per­for­mance” has thus already paid off.

But you remain adamant on the real point: the plant urgent­ly needs to work on its atti­tude and weak­ness­es. A flower with­out blos­soms has no future here. That has to be said so clear­ly. The rose right next to it does that far bet­ter! And there are plen­ty of very sim­i­lar flow­ers at the gar­den cen­tre that would be hap­py to take its place here. It would be ridicu­lous if you could­n’t get this low per­former up to speed with that!

Just to be on the safe side, you’ll cre­ate addi­tion­al incen­tive. With prop­er flow­er­ing per­for­mance, a thick extra por­tion of fer­til­iz­er at the end of the year and more water the fol­low­ing year beck­ons. This should not miss its effect. Every­one can be bought, it’s all a ques­tion of the amount of the bonus.

The answer to the ques­tion man­agers so often ask of behav­ioral sci­en­tists „How do you moti­vate peo­ple?“ is, „You don’t.“

Dou­glas McGre­gor, 1966. Lead­er­ship and moti­va­tion: essays

In case it still does not bloom with­in the next month, you already have a plan. Then you’ll make an exam­ple of it in front of the whole gar­den by threat­en­ing to move it to the mossy part of the gar­den next to the com­post heap, just at the edge of the bed, so that you can always dri­ve past it a lit­tle bit too close with your lawn­mow­er. This will hope­ful­ly show it that you are serious!

At least it will not inter­fere with the over­all per­for­mance of your gar­den so much after the relo­ca­tion. Times are tough after all, there is no room for low per­form­ers. You need top per­for­mance from every­one now. Oth­er­wise you will nev­er be able to catch up with your neighbor’s per­for­mance. Where does he get these high­ly moti­vat­ed plants? There it blooms in abun­dance, not like at your place, where you con­stant­ly have to cut out dead wood and can’t keep up with replac­ing wilt­ed plants.

Why do you hire dead wood? Or why do you hire live wood and kill it?

Peter Scholtes (1997). The Leader’s Hand­book (S. 331)

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