Down here in the wonderful South, the bulbs are sprouting and the lilies are springing up from the burnt red clay. As I watch and anticipate their future blooms my mind wanders back to the Northeast where I spent my younger years. Why does my mind go back to the Northeast this time of year?  Because, up in Boston it is cold and dreary and the daffodils haven’t even broken through the frozen tundra!

So what do flowers have to do with employees? Everything!  Just like flowers, employees need to have the right environment to flourish. Some flowers like tulips bloom year after year in colder climates yet here in the South after the first spring, tulips rarely re-bloom. Employees are all unique individuals who require different environments to thrive and work to their full potential.

Think about an employee that you hired who seemed to be an A player in his previous positions, yet never met your expectations. It might be that you corporate culture and environment wasn’t providing him with the necessary “nutrients”.

So before you give up on that employee who isn’t meeting your expectations, ask yourself these questions:

  • What can I as a leader provide this employee that would make him more successful? And, are there additional resources I can provide him? It maybe that he doesn’t have the right resources or isn’t clear on how he can obtain them.
  • Does he clearly understand my expectations and how his work fits into the vision for the company? When an employee understands his value to the company, great things can happen.
  • Am I communicating with him in a way he clearly understands? As a leader, it is your job to make sure you are communicating so others can receive and understand.
  • What are the non-negotiable behaviors required of employees within the organization? And, is the employee displaying any of them and can they be coached to the standards you expect? If the behaviors are not coachable, then it is time to make the difficult decision.
  • What do his team members think of him and his work? If peers don’t have a high regard, what impact will it have on future productivity? Peers are generally the first to know that an employee is not fitting in with team culture.
  • What does he value that drives and motivates him? As a leader, understanding his drivers provides you with clues on how he will respond to various management styles.
  • Do his values align with company values? Individual values and company values must align for an employee to be fully engaged and productive.

The alignment of corporate culture and employees is critical to success of the individual, the leader and the organization. Make sure you don’t place a fern in the desert of the Southwest; it will quickly wither and die. And if you have hired a person who is misaligned with your culture and values, design and implement a transition plan.

Image Credit: The Stock Exchange ( User: J-Stuart