The “Getting” vs. the “Having”


My husband Jim is a big fan of yard work. Our home sits on an acre and a half of beautiful wooded, hilly, grassy land. Jim takes great pride in keeping our yard looking picture perfect. He’s always running the lawn tractor or pushing the fertilizer spreader or planting grass seed in the bare patches. His efforts last well into the fall, even after the first frost has insured the end of grass cutting sessions. He’s always doing something in the yard…mowing, spreading, hosing.  And the results are spectacular. Because of his work, we always have a gorgeous yard.

But for him, I think the process is more rewarding than the product. While our neighbors “oooh and ahhh” at our yard, he sees the flaws and problems, and will be figuring out a way to overcome them. He likes preparing, tending and improving the yard. I’m different.  I like HAVING a beautiful yard, I’m not a big fan of GETTING a beautiful yard. He likes the “getting” more than the “having.” He’s a cultivator.

Maybe you have people on your team that like the “getting” more than the “having.” They are cultivators.  In gardening, cultivating involves preparing, weeding, planting, nourishing and harvesting. It’s an ongoing active process, that brings great joy to the heart of a cultivator.But cultivating isn’t limited to gardening. In an organization, cultivators are the ones that like to do the preparation, the planning, the behind the scenes work that make things happen. Cultivators may develop, foster and nourish other people, or they may develop, foster and nourish a project. They may work in groups, or be isolated. Whatever the mode is in which they work, your cultivators are an essential part of your team.

How can you foster your cultivators? Here are some ideas.

  1. Allow them the freedom to cultivate. They may not be the most creative people, or the fastest people, but they could be the hardest working people. Let them be who they are.
  2. Don’t tie their reward to their product or end result. Since they love the process more than the product, an end result reward will not resonate or motivate them. Instead, reward and recognize them for daily or ongoing commitment, their work ethic, and their reliability.
  3. Likewise, don’t penalize a cultivator if circumstances out of their control mean less production, outcome or results. You may need to anticipate and eliminate roadblocks, conflicts or restrictions, or be prepared to accept what you cannot change. As much as my husband wants a beautiful lawn, those moles can wreck havoc no matter how many traps he sets.
  4. Recognize that cultivators can fit into many different positions. Assembly line workers are product cultivators. Project managers are project cultivators. Trainers cultivate expertise in the workforce. Career counselors cultivate futures for employees. Public relation officers cultivate a good image of your organization to outsiders. Plant maintenance workers, janitors, cafeteria workers all cultivate a comfortable environment.

Cultivating comes in many forms. Think outside the garden box, and you’ll be able to find many ways to bring the cultivator to life in your organization. When they come to life, so can your organization.

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