Pink and purple wild flowers

Why HR should take up gardening

A few years ago I bought a new house. The previous owners did not spend much time gardening and the back yard was a mess. My first priority was to get the house together. When that was done, I decided to tackle the garden. I enjoy being outside and I wanted to create a garden that was a relaxing place to be.

In order to do so, I first needed to get a feel for it so I watched the garden through four seasons and engaged in reading, planning and designing. The next spring, I hired a landscaper to carry out the heavy structural work: first dig up the complete backyard and then lay down the foundation for my new garden with a lawn, brick pathways and borders. When that was finished I filled the borders with plants that I had carefully selected to create my garden.

Over the next year, while working in my garden, I learned some valuable lessons:

  • You need a good structure to curb the growth of your plants, so you garden won´t turn into a jungle
  • Plants that were supposed to adjust well to the conditions in my garden did poorly and died or limped along. After replacing them with new ones, the same thing happened and I did not buy them again
  • Some plants took root very quickly and developed a healthy root system, while others whithered away under the same care. Sometimes all it took for a plant to thrive was to dig it up and put it in a diffent spot
  • A few plants grew too big too fast, required too much pruning or attracted the wrong kind of bugs and I had to pull them out and remove them alltogether
  • Shrubs had to be pruned regularly and decisively or they lost their shape: they grew too tall or spread out of their allotted space
  • There were a number of plants that did much better after I dug them up, divided the root systems to create a few smaller plants and combined them with others
  • As a gardener, you must take action: if you don´t spend time weeding, your borders will fill up quickly with unwanted plants that suffocate the ones you really want.
  • And finally, I also needed to take the time to simply sit and enjoy the garden. There will always be a few weeds and flowers past their prime. I have to live with some imperfections, otherwise the work never stops.

I am sure by now you understand where I am going with this: taking up gardening and understanding plants took a lot of time and attention but resulted in a wonderful garden in which I can relax. And if you take a step back and look at the big picture, there is an uncanny resemblance with managing the workforce in your organization. Some people thrive without any help, others unexpectedly do an outstanding job when given new responsibilities or a new assignment and some employees just do not make the cut and can’t seem to find the right place. When you start to think about it, there are many resemblances.

Being outside, caring for plants and working with your hands also gives you time to contemplate your daily activities and gain a fresh perspective. So even if you don´t like gardening, take a moment today to think about your hobby, and what lessons you can learn from it to apply to dealing with your workforce.