Gardening and Training – synergy in nature and nurture


Now the summer seems well and truly underway, we’ve all no doubt had some time outside tending to our gardens, allotments or window boxes.  The proliferation of shrubs, vegetables and the perennial weeds, with the warmth of the sun and the occasional downpours got us thinking about the synergy of the jobs in the garden and the similarities with training…stay with us, it will make sense!

During the winter months, there are lots of preparations, sowing seedlings, preparing the ground, digging in the fertiliser all ready for the following summer displays.  Now some of us are impatient, and want to see immediate results, but the true gardener knows that in order for those spectacular arrays of colour and vibrant smells, we need patience and excellent grounding. Synergy 1: The same is true when you send staff on training.  You need to prepare them for their workshop or training programme.  Throwing seeds onto unprepared ground elicits little in the way of solid, sturdy specimens.  Throwing your staff onto training programmes with no preparation in the hope that they will flourish is equally doomed to failure.  So a bit of nurture, conversations around why they are attending the training (whether for improvement, development, or future progression), if they know and understand the reasons for their attendance, they’ll be prepared to soak up the knowledge and blossom.

Sometimes during the harshest of winters there is deterioration.  Late frosts can scupper the best prepared plants; pesky slugs and snails invade the hard won ground and you can look at your specimens and see nothing but wilting leaves and buds.  BUT with careful tending, taking some extra time to care for the roots and not just digging them up and chucking on the compost, you start to see the spring shoots gradually break through. Synergy 2: It is also true that staff can appear to be withering despite your best efforts with their development.  Metaphorically chucking them on the development compost is a waste of their talents and the time and effort you’ve already invested.  You occasionally need to spend time and effort nurturing that learning so that those training shoots can fight their way to the surface and start to really sprout foliage and strength.

Summer arrives and everything is in full bloom – you can sit back on your garden swing or on your balcony and reap the pleasurable rewards of your hard work. HOWEVER, is that some bindweed lurking in the undergrowth – strangling the plants’ development and suffocating the continuous growth?  You need to nip this in the bud otherwise it will become stronger than the plant it is wrapped around.  Synergy 3: On occasion your staff too can become inured in the day to day pressures of their job….the learning goes out of the window and they revert to what they are comfortable doing.  The struggle to put the learning into practice is just too much and the bindweed of business strangles their productivity and potential.  Regular reviews and face to face chats with each individual means that you keep on top of the business bindweed.  By tackling these shoots of doubt as they form, you keep your team on a development pathway that is well paved and not cracked or uneven, with the potential to trip them up on their journey.

And finally to autumn, you now have the opportunity to discover whether that beautiful buddleia needs moving to a new position in the organisation that is your garden, before the winter sets in.  You want it to establish itself before the cold takes hold and in order to give it the best chance to survive, you again need to prepare the ground, use some food to encourage growth and support it with canes or trellis.  Synergy 4: Similarly members of your team sometimes need moving.  They are stagnating in their current position and in order for them to continue to blossom and perform outstandingly for the business, they need to find a new site.  This might be a different role in your team, a different position in your company, or even, sometimes, taking a new position elsewhere.  Support them, through their 1:1s, performance management, further training, establishing them within the team under a new guise or if necessary by letting their roots spread to another garden.

The only way we can see that this analogy doesn’t work is you can’t take a cutting – well, we wouldn’t advise chopping off a healthy limb and re-planting….and remember in recruitment you don’t always want to a clone of what you had – sometimes a new variety and something completely different brings a different, and healthy change of perspective to your garden and your team!

Encourage the individual “plants” within your team to all flourish and build their strength on the back of their learning, and they will share their knowledge with others, so when their time comes to move to pastures new, they’ll leaving behind healthy shoots in the younger members of the team for you to nurture again.

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