This Spring we hauled all of our house plants outside to the picnic table and repotted them. A few plants were very overdue for some attention and had become potbound. You may be familiar with this phenomena, the roots of the plant grow so much that when you pull the plant out of the pot the roots themselves keep the pot shape. Many plants do not like being pot bound. Constraining the roots makes the aboveground part of the plant languish.
Becoming potbound is a familiar feeling for us humans too. We may start working at a new organization with high hopes of making a significant contribution. We promote innovative idea after innovative idea, willing to take the burden of the extra work on ourselves, but receive a steady stream of nos. After months and years of bumping up against these barriers, we too start to languish.
You may have had the experience of hiring someone who had all the potential in the world but did not quite work out the way you thought they would. Over time they may have become potbound; discouraged about the lack of opportunity and unable to put their energy into moving the organization forward.
To avoid this occurrence, we can help new hires channel their creative energy into finding no or low-risk ways to test their hunches. They might stumble on ways to add value, improve member experience, and improve the association and in the process of doing this work, become a more engaged employee.