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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Green Thumb Manager

I've spent time in my garden these past few weeks and it’s given me time to think about a few different things; namely how much planting a garden is like managing a team of professionals.  It takes equal parts time and patience as the process is something that doesn't happen overnight. A good Gardener is required to map out their garden long before the first seed is sown. Using tried and tested tools of the trade, they must painstakingly turn and sift the soil; clearing out obstacles like large rocks, old roots and debris that can clog the growth of healthy plants. They must get dirty with their hands and knees buried deep in the earth as they meticulously tear out weeds and bugs that could do harm to the plants.

They must be willing to experience the conditions that their plants will be subjected to each day. They must face the heat of the sun on the back of their necks and on their face; the sweat stinging their eyes and wetting their brow. They must endure bites and stings from creatures that are perplexed by the turmoil in their tiny world; upset that this force has come into their domain and forced change. They must experience performing tasks repetitively with no immediate reward for the time they've put in. And when the day is done and it is time to leave the garden, they must stretch their aching backs, scrape the dirt from under their nails and put away their tools to ensure they can start fresh and clean again in the morning.
The Gardner knows though that the real work begins once the garden has been tilled and turned. For they know that the very things that can give a garden life can also take that life away if not properly managed.  If they use the wrong soil the plants won’t get the nutrients they need; essentially starving.  If they over water the seeds they will drown. If they don’t water them enough they’ll wilt. Too much sun and they will bake. Not enough and they’ll be stunted and never reach their full growth potential.
It doesn't take too much to draw parallels between the Garden and the Office or between the Plants and your Personnel.

  •          Have a good idea as to what you’d like to grow in your garden-Will you have time to cultivate and nurture new seeds? Is it better to transfer mature plants from another area?  Every garden requires a different mix of plants. Do you have the right balance in place to accomplish your goals?
  •          Understand your landscape and weather patterns before you plant- Will these plants thrive or struggle to survive? Is the soil fertile enough for them to take root? Will they be able to handle the weight of the World around them once they’re exposed to the environment? Have you prepared them enough to come out of the safety of the earth surrounding them? Will an unexpected storm wipe them out before they've even have a chance to grow?
  •          Be prepared to fend off both natural predators and outside pressure-There are many things in this world that will work against your garden; whether it’s the stubborn weed trying to strangle the young plant’s roots or the pesky animal that likes to dig up the soil and steal the plants. As the Gardner, you must be vigilant and be prepared to take action to protect your plants. Set up a fence line to deter even the most tenacious pest away. Make your garden a safe place. Control what comes in and what goes out. Then get out into the dirt as often as possible to cull those weeds before they take back over your entire lawn.
  •           Be prepared for small wins and big losses for the first few seasons-Unless you’re a natural green thumb; born to cultivate and harvest, then you will have losses. Plants will struggle to grow. Some will never break through the dirt to see the sunshine. Some will grow too quickly and then burn out before their peak time. Some will need to be removed so that the other plants get the attention and resources they need to flourish. However, if the garden is tended properly, you will see results. Small at first but growing over time. With the right mixture of raw resources, maintenance and guidance your garden may soon become the envy of the block.

Obviously managing people is far more complicated than growing a garden but there is something to be said about the person who invests their time and passion into something that can’t give back on the same level. A truly good Gardener; much like a truly good Manager understands that the work you put in will not always be equal to the results you get out. That there will be good seasons and bad seasons but no matter what there will always be opportunities to replant. In life as in business, we work with what we have. So whether we grow in clay, silt or peat we’ll reap what we sow. 

‘What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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