Most of you know me as a speaker, writer, and consultant. Some of you know that I’m a working musician on the side. I grew up in California in the ’50’s and ’60’s. I watched great artists playing cool guitars - and I fell in love with stringed instruments. I’ve been collecting them since college.
To stay healthy, stringed instruments need one thing every minute of every day: proper humidity.
These instruments are made of wood - wood that reacts to the environment they’re in. Acoustic instruments have a sweet spot: they are healthiest when they exist in an environment with 45-55% humidity.
If the air is too dry? The wood will shrink, split and crack. String tension will likely cause a significant break. If the air is too wet? The glue holding the instrument together will fail - and the string tension will cause an impressive implosion!
In the California coastal towns where we lived for 30 years, the humidity was perfect for those instruments.
In the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, that’s not the case. It’s dry here - consistently in the 20% range. To boost humidity, we use three humidifiers. They keep the humidity at 40—45%. We refill them with water 2-3 times a day. My Taylor guitars have a cool sensor that sends their current humidity to a smartphone app. That app pings me if the humidity gets too low or too high.
Just like guitars, the employees of your organization operate most effectively when their environment - the work culture they live in - provides what they need to thrive: respect and validation for their ideas, efforts, and contributions, every day.
Respect and validation require a leader to notice and then communicate appreciation for team members’ ideas, efforts, and contributions.
Here’s the secret: employees have a sweet spot, too. The most positive impact of respect and validation occurs when the leader enables employees’ inclusion, involvement, and influence.
Team members bring their best when they are respected and validated in ways that seamlessly include them . . . that involve them in options and decisions . . . and that gives them legitimate influence in their work and workplace.
Anything less erodes engagement, service, and results, every time.