I recently volunteered at my golf course to assist with the distribution of mulch around the clubhouse. A group of 16 fellow golfers came out on a Monday morning and in a matter of hours had the place looking fresh and revitalized; there were moments of excellence everywhere you looked offering an appealing visual to anyone approaching, whether they were members or merely “passers by”. It wasn’t about just tossing mulch where it could be seen, but getting deep into the beds and removing branches, leaves, weeds and trash from those out the way places. A worthy time spent, getting dirty, a bit sweaty and yes maybe a few muscles “awakened” having not used them in a while.
As I arrived home and tossed my gloves on the ground to clean them off, my neighbor asked what I had been doing. “Mulching”. He gave me a brief smile and then began to tell me why he hates it: Too much work, too time consuming, too many achy muscles and when it’s done you just have to do it all over again in a few months anyway and then my favorite: “I can always spray stuff to kill those pesky weeds.”
It reminded me how much management inadvertently avoids “mulching”. Time spent walking around the office, really talking to people in their environment, not calling them into your office. Asking questions of colleagues or subordinates and knowing it’s not always going to be pleasant. Get down to the nitty-gritty, being prepared to not just listen to words, but hear the message. It’s not about applying weed killer, it’s about listening to avoid those “pesky things” in the first place.
Work a little, get to the places that are in the back and typically “out of view”, but still warrant attention. Knowing that you might not come out of this venture looking good, and who knows actually be a little messy yourself, and yes, perhaps ache a little. But, knowing that when you’re done, the agenda wasn’t about you – it was about the landscape. It was to get in there and appreciate what has been done, see where it can be better, remove obstacles and clutter that hurt the quality of your product. And…..realizing that when it’s all done, you’ll have to do it again and again if you want to sustain the “look”.
Mulching……..it’s not just about getting your hands dirty.