The Talent Garden

The last bud of the season

Last Saturday I spent the better part of the daylight hours working outside. Specifically in the garden. Most of the time I was on my knees, pulling weeds and grasses that had crept in where I did not want them to grow. My son-in-law prepared some of the bare ground for spring seeding. I am preparing for the onslaught of leaves and acorns that will all come down over the next 3 weeks. It’s all prep work now for enjoying the yard next year.

I enjoy the scents of summer and colors and shapes a garden provides. I enjoy the process of helping them come to being as well. The work to achieve the desired output is different with the seasons, and different with each plant. Fall is one of my favorite times. The smell of the ground in the fall is different from the smell in spring. The many earthworms were an indication that all is going well in the underground balance of things. The fading leaves and final buds are all part of the cycle. When the day was done, I looked at the rather ordinary space and saw it for the beauty it will be in a few short months.

That’s why I like being a team leader.  I like the opportunity to help shape talent. And I realized something has been bothering me about talent at work lately, and it is this: Why do so many managers only know how to prune and weed, and so few seem to know how to nourish?

I’ve worked with all kinds of leaders. Some want to buy the talent – the pre-grown potted plants. I like potted plants. We usually keep a couple of them on our front porch. But we still have to care for them. We have to water them. We rotate them for more complete sun exposure. We feed them. But when a leader hires pre-potted talent, they don’t always realize that additional support may be needed, and they wonder why these talents don’t take root in the organization.

Other leaders like to hand-pick raw talent. They believe that they can see an inner potential. Maybe they do. Maybe they have the ability to recognize what the person might grow to become. But they don’t always realize that it will take time to help that talent grow. Attention. Nourishment. Training. Potential is rarely self-sufficient.

How do you tend to the growth of your talent? Do you contract it out? Do you know enough about how to grow the variety you have chosen? In the coming weeks I hope to challenge how you think about growing talent. About the seasons, about the soil, about the range of temperature extremes and how all those factors can influence success in the Talent Garden.

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