The Grass is Always Greener …

Grace frequently enjoys a leisurely grazing of grass. Lately she’s been racing to a particular spot just beyond where I like her to venture as it’s right along a road. I’m curious about her motivation to do this (she goes to exact same spot even though there is the same kind of grass all over the place). Effective managers find ways to handle things that happen, versus focusing on why it happened.

Grace has always been a grazer. She loves to eat grass. I have no idea why. Maybe she loves the taste. Maybe it settles her stomach. Maybe both. Maybe neither.

It’s a mystery — one of many that exists with my relationship with Grace — and will frequently happen in relationships in the workplace. There are some things that we’ll just never figure out. 

And I suggest you not try.

That might sound contrary coming from someone who always advocates learning more about your own style and that of others. Using assessments is the perfect way to gain deeper insight into styles and behaviors. It’s crystal clear to me how important that information is to help individuals in the workplace work more effectively together. Armed with reliable, valid, and objective data, we can predict what things will happen, just not necessarily why.

Just as I can predict Grace will run to that particular stretch of grass, I can’t know why she’s doing it. Using assessment information, I can predict that someone will have a skeptical outlook versus being gullible, or that someone can multi-task more comfortably than a person who works in a methodical way, even though I don’t know why. It is what it is.

Managers should resist the temptation to think that the grass will be greener, that things will get better or change in some magical way, if they can figure out why something is happening. We may or may not completely or accurately understand the motives of others. Our job as a manager is to focus on behaviors that impact work performance and interactions with others.

It’s doesn’t help to get frustrated because you want it another way. It only helps to move forward with the situation you have and do what you can to create the environment where the person can be their best.

Do you see the grass as green or are you always looking for the other side?




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  1. Carol Richards on September 27, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Robin, another article with good advice. I always say “The grass is greener on the other side, until you realize it still has to be mowed!” So, maybe it only looks greener, but it’s probably no better than what you already have. So your article reminds me to focus on our own grass to make that better and don’t worry so much about the other side. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Robin on September 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Carol, thanks so much for commenting! I LOVE that part about it still needing to be mowed. How true is that! I agree that the right approach is to focus on making the grass better as opposed to focusing on the other side (which may never exist as we think it will). If more is working than not working, that says there is a lot of good happening. Thanks again for your contribution to the discussion!

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