Blue Diamond – Empowering you to take control of work & life

How plants help us understand what’s not working at work

What have plants got to do with anything?

I have a lot of discussions with people about their work: they often come to me when things aren’t working for them.

When you’re in that situation – as you may well be now – it’s not always easy to see the wood from the trees. I’ve been there myself.

I love to use metaphors to simplify things and to help clients break down their own situation to its component parts. One of my favourite metaphors to help clients understand why they aren’t happy at work is to imagine themselves as a plant…I’ll share it with you here.

 

How plants help us see what's not working at work

How plants can help us understand what’s not working at work

You are a plant and you’re growing in a pot of some kind. The pot represents your role. Your pot is positioned in a certain location, which represents the environment you’re working in.

Furthermore, as a plant you need the right amount and type of nurturing and nourishment to enable you to grow and flourish. Without this, you’ll wither and ultimately not survive.

Let’s explore each part further and see what we can learn from plants about what’s not working with your work (and identify what you may need to thrive instead)

You are the plant

You are a unique plant.

OK, there may be others that are similar to you, with similar backgrounds, qualifications, personalities, values and aspirations. But you are a unique combination of all of these components.

For most plants there is not necessarily one unique set of circumstances required for survival, but they’ll be certain conditions that are more favourable than others.

You may have been fortunate and found yourself in ideal situations, but you may also need to learn what does and doesn’t make you happy or help you to succeed.

This could also evolve or change throughout your working life.

Plant pot represents your role

Continuing with the plant metaphor, the pot represents your role.

Either you are in a pot right now, or maybe you are in between pots. This could be through choice, redundancy or other circumstances e.g. study, maternity leave or other career break, ill health etc.

Your pot – current or target – could be any number of different colours, shapes and sizes.

It could be made of diverse materials – glass, crockery or plastic. It could be traditional or modern, fancy or plain.  Your pot may even be a repurposed old boot!

How plants can help us understand what’s not working at work

Your pot may suit you very well. It might be just the right size and shape, with enough room to develop and grow without you feeling overwhelmed.

Sometimes you know instinctively that you’re in the right kind of role. Or perhaps you’ve worked so hard to get here, that you want to stay here, for now at least.

But sometimes your pot is not serving you well.

  • Maybe it used to, but doesn’t any more.
  • Perhaps you’ve outgrown your pot and need something bigger in which to develop and grow.
  • Maybe if you’re honest, it’s never really felt right.

Perhaps, you might just need a different type of pot all together.

Plant location is your environment

Your pot is positioned somewhere and this represents your work environment.

This could represent the organisation, the culture, the values or maybe the team you operate within.

Different types of plants grow in different environments all over the world. If we’re considering indoor environments only, these can be more easily created or replicated in different locations too.

How plants can help us understand our work situation

However, not all plants can grow anywhere. Different plants not only prefer certain locations but may actually need them to be able to survive and thrive.

Some organisations could feel like the best fit ever for you. In others you wouldn’t even be able to complete your probation period or even make it through the door!

You may be in the right pot (role), but the location isn’t working for you. Maybe you’re in the sun when you need the shade or vice versa. Maybe you need dry heat or coolness or humidity.

Some locations might serve you well at a point in time, but maybe you’ve outgrown them (or them you) and now it’s time to move on. Being able to recognise this can be key. Taking the action you need can be a whole other story.

Plant nurturing presents the support you need

Plants often differ in the amount of care they need.

Some need consistent maintenance, requiring a lot of attention in terms of watering, replanting, pruning etc. Others may thrive better when left alone. This may differ by plant type, but could also change at different life phases too.

You maybe someone that likes/needs their manager to be engaged, supportive interested and encouraging. Alternative you may prefer to be left alone to get on in your own way with minimum direction or fuss.

This can also be situational and relate to time in role, at the organisation etc.

How to see what’s not working and what you need instead

All components pot, location and care, may be working out well for you. If and when everything aligns, this can be fantastic.

But, if not, it may be time to look around for something else. A new role. A fresh environment. A different kind of manager.

Hopefully you’ve read through until now and this is making some sense. If you now know what to do, that’s great, I’m glad to have been of assistance.

If you feel like you’ll need some help to figure it out, contact me for your free career strategy discussion.

Wrap-up

You are a plant and you’re growing in a pot of some kind. The pot represents your role. Your pot is positioned in a certain location, which represents the environment you’re working in.

As a plant you need the right amount and type of nurturing and nourishment to enable you to grow and flourish. Without this, you’ll wither and ultimately not survive.

Things could be working out just fine for you right now at work, but maybe it’s not as rosy as you’d like.

It’s often more complex than an all or nothing situation. By taking the time to explore whether it’s your role, the environment or the management support, can be incredibility insightful.

It can often point to what you do need instead and help you to best figure out how to get this. Remember, you always have more choices than you might think!

 

Thanks for reading. Check out other Blue Diamond articles to help you take control of your work and life.