How Are You Growing Your New People?

Spring has arrived in the Mid-West, and people are scurrying around plant nurseries like frenzied squirrels preparing for winter. The sun and warmer temps along with a wave of nursery ads have convinced many of us to fill our carts with an array of colorful perennials, annuals, and fragrant shrubs.  Yes, I have been right in the middle of the chaos because gardening is in my blood. My reaction has been a bit different than my fellow shoppers. I’ve wanted to throw my hands up in the air and yell “No! They aren’t ready yet”!

Mother Nature has a way of getting even with us. Just because it looks and feels like spring, we need to wait until we know that the season is ready for planting. It was 29 degrees here last night and promises to be another cold one tonight. My fellow gardening aficionados that bought colorful plants and welcomed them into their gardens may have tears running as we speak. The plants that they bought can't take cold temperatures and are probably a lifeless brown color by now. Our actual frost date in Michigan is at the end of May. Trust me; I learned early on that you never put a plant in the ground until the plant and the environment are ready.

In many ways, our new team members are like a young plant. You are both eager to plant them where they will flourish. However, new people need some gentle babying similar to a young flower. New employees need to learn and become accustomed to your culture. Like plants, you can’t just pull them out of a warm greenhouse, plop them into the 50-degree soil and expect them to grow. You need to immerse them in the area with some dedicated mentoring until they adjust and are raring to go.

New employees should be planted in the right spot within your organization. You can’t plunk a Hosta in the middle of a hot spot in the yard in the midst of a cactus garden and expect results. Likewise, be cognoscente of your new player’s skills and strengths and place them where they can contribute and thrive.

Leadership responsibility doesn't end after your new team member is planted. They need periodic touch bases with you to learn how they feel in their new role and what support they require along the way. Periodically, you need to fertilize your people and nourish their growth and progress. Checking in with people should be planned, consistent, and heartfelt. You've invested a lot in your members, and you don't want to wake up some day learning that they are listless and leaving the organization.

Seedlings are fragile and small in the spring, yet they can outgrow their space in a matter of months and become overly crowded and no longer thriving. Perhaps they are shaded by other companions or being choked out by weeds. Don’t let this happen to your newer teammates. Don’t assume that life is just humming along fine. Get out there in the trenches and see how your people are interacting and growing. What areas need attention? Is there some weeding that needs completing so that others can continue their work and grow? Do your people have the support that they need so that they can have an impact where it's needed? Are they receiving enough doses of information to succeed?  Get out into your “garden” every day to walk around and notice anything that just isn’t thriving.

A garden is a sanctuary for those that plan, prepare the environment for planting and spend precious time picking the right "plant" for the right place and nurture growth. You need to think of your team and ask yourself how well you are tending to your work "garden".

Photo courtesy of IMGPK via freedigitalphotos.net








Are you ready to Dare To Serve? Is Your Garden?

"A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them" - Liberty Hyde Bailey

Photo courtesy of Barrett Discovery via Compfight.com
Spring is almost here which means that my weak winterized body is going to be mighty sore once I get outside working in my garden. All the pulling, cutting beds, and spreading mulch is like a landscape triathlon. If you don't believe  me just pop over and see. Springtime literally means that I'm out there serving my gardens and preparing my plants for growth. My legs will be like jelly and I'm hoping that there's some weight loss involved!

Whenever I have visitors to my garden the first thing that they always state is "Wow! This is a lot of work! How do you do it?". It is work this time of year, but I LOVE it! I know what my work will bring and it's well worth it. Once spring cleaning is done there is little labor in the garden other than some weeding and deadheading of my flowers. Gardening has never been a chore because I love it and I become completely immersed in what I'm doing. I bet that anyone who has a hobby gets a bit obsessed at times and really understands where I'm coming from. It's a labor of love and I'm happy to serve my plants to "plant the seeds" for growth.

I can't repeat myself enough in my blog. I love finding the special gifts in people and bringing them out to help with personal growth and impacting others. Like gardening, it's one of the most rewarding experiences that I am privileged to experience. I've done this as a manager and continue to have an impact even without a supervisory title. We should all be committed to serving others and bringing out the best in those that we work with. Think of the changes that we could collectively bring about.

For the past few years I've really focused on my leadership style and through some soul searching,  I've  been able to define who I am, what I stand for,  my values, and how I can help others. Serving others as a leader is like serving my gardens this time of year. Preparing for growth and seeing how I can serve to do so. I have found some powerful books and articles on the "new" leadership style  which has really impacted me - Servant Leadership.

"There's nothing fundamentally wrong with our country except that the leaders of all our major organizations are operating on the wrong assumptions" - Robert Townsend

I couldn't agree more with this quote. I just finished an incredible new book that has really impacted my leadership growth. The book is Dare To Serve: How To Drive Superior Results By Serving Others by Cheryl Bachelder the CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. Cheryl enthusiastically shares how serving others as a leader ultimately impacts the bottom line but most importantly, serving influences people. People are the key to a company's success and servant leadership is rewarding for everyone. I've finally been able to define my own leadership style and Cheryl offers some sound advice on how to Dare To Serve. 

Dare To Serve is divided into 3 parts. Cheryl explains the Popeye story of rising from the ashes to financial success AND how her people grew as well through the transformation. She shows how to drive superior results. She shares how to become a Dare To Serve leader. Lastly, she offers a strong call to action. Throughout the book she shares 40 Dare To Serve reflections for the reader to think about or share with teams. They are guaranteed to get you thinking! I really enjoyed Cheryl's journey of clearly defining the issues at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and in particular, the relationships between franchisees and Popeyes employees. She doesn't hold back and is very transparent. Moreover, she is very quick to admit that they still have a lot of work to accomplish as a company and they still experience rocky times. Also? This book is written for you and me - not leaders of major high profile companies. We can make a difference.

Cheryl begins our journey by pointing out that most people (including most leaders) expect leaders to be in the spotlight. Too many  leaders work for, live, crave, and love the spotlight. To them it means that they have "made it". Wrong! Servant leaders willingly step out of the spotlight and shift the light from themselves to their people. They focus on their people. They listen. They involve others in decisions and continually empower. They are humble and courageous. They aspire and serve over self interest. They help others pursue dreams. They serve others and bring superior results. So, move that spotlight. 

There are clear benefits to becoming a Dare To Serve Leader and you will want to dig in deep within this book to learn. They include "gold" that every leader wants.

  • People will tell you the truth and what you need to know.
  • Your bold vision is more likely to have followers.
  • Teams will perform without being reminded or pushed.
  • People perform at a superior level.
  • People are more likely to have your back and will even protect you from yourself.

A key to being a true servant leader is bringing the best out of your people. It's fun. It's challenging. You find gifts and skill gaps. You learn and respect different team talents. You grow people and the bottom line. You bring purpose and let people know that they their work has meaning. Getting to know what drives people and motivates them goes a long way towards success. Cheryl shares her "Journey to Personal Purpose". This is a plan to help people determine their purpose because no one  can do it for them. The keys to the plan include: 

  • What are an individuals life experiences?
  • Establish your personal values. Live them.
  • Strength identification. Grow them and use them to serve.
  • Personal purpose for leadership.
  • Asking "My purpose can serve the organization for ______"

After we live Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen's 6 year journey from  financial and franchise troubles to average restaurant sales increases up 25%, market share increases from 14 to 21 percent, and an impressive improvement of 40% profitability, we get to learn how to become a Dare To Serve leader . This is where the magic really happens because this is your chance to learn what is takes to be a servant leader and how you can make a real difference. 

What does it take to become a Dare To Serve Leader? Are you ready?
  • Choose to serve. Be a servant leader and avoid these traps - Power, achievement for yourself, too much personal ambition. Know any of these leaders stuck in the trap?  Don't be a self centered leader.
  • Be bold and brave. Have the courage to serve and be willing to accept failure. I love how Cheryl compares servant leadership to extreme sports. You need to "go big or go home". Stretch yourself and others. 
  • Have clarity of purpose. You need to find your purpose before you can help others do the same. Sit down and do it today. Examine your life. Choose your key 3 values. Know your gifts and use them. Write your purpose. Test your purpose and ask are you true to it?
  • Avoid the spotlight. Remember. Jump out of the spotlight and move it onto others. Do this while following these core beliefs: Practice the golden rule, have personal responsibility, and be humble every day.
  • Call to action.  As a leader you have influence and are a steward to others. Stand up with a call to action and find a way to spread the Dare To Serve word.
Perhaps your leadership style has become outdated. Maybe you are realizing that you are acting like a leader back in the 1980s or 1990s. New leaders need guidance and role models. We really are all leaders in some form or another and we need to be authentic - not a copy cat. Becoming a servant leader will transform your life and your career. Dare To Serve: How To Drive Superior Results By Serving Others by Cheryl Bachelder really has influenced my leadership growth. I feel like I have a clearer plan to guide my walk down the path to success. I want to continually personally grow and really positively impact others. I am a servant leader and I Dare To Serve. How about you?

I sincerely encourage you to pick up Cheryl's book today to begin your journey in becoming  a servant leader. If you are interested,  you can learn more about the book “Dare to Serve” and download a free sample chapter  here Dare To Serve

Get Back To Natural Leadership For What Ails You!

"I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired" - Fannie Lou Hamer
Photo courtesy of podchef via Compfight
Does this quote resonate with you? Have you been miserable over the past few weeks with any of the horrible colds or the flu that have been raging throughout the country? I know that I have been plagued by a sinus and ear infection which led me to being crabby with despair. The only upside has been that my house seems quieter when my ears are all muffled!

Just a few days ago the CDC announced that the flu has become an epidemic in over 25 states. As always, it has affected the very young and old the most. Emergency rooms across the country have been overrun with sick contagious people. If you can catch it soon enough, you may be able to  receive a prescription such as Tamiflu to help ease symptoms before they become too serious. IF you can get to your doctor soon enough.

I'm on my second antibiotic for my infection. I've been miserable and willing to try anything to relieve the pain. My 17 year is an outdoor enthusiastic and lives all things nature. He makes Pine Tea and steams a variety of leaves to cure different ails. I jokingly asked him if he had any herbal cures for me and naturally, he did. I just wasn't willing to put damp moss in my ear for the pain or crushed willow. Give me some Motrin! His suggestion spurned me on to look up any unique plant medicinal cures other than those that I've already heard about. With all our high tech medicines and cures these days, we tend to forget that most, if not all, medicines start at the roots - with plants.

Plants have been the drug of choice for civilizations for thousands of years. There are still modern day plant collectors that risk their lives to find plants that can be used to formulate or improve our medicines today. Everything starts and ends with Mother Nature. Here are some "natural" medicines to try this sickly season. Many of them act as immune system boosters to help you boost your body's fighting power. You can either find them in a tablet form or make them at home Outdoor Life.

  • Elderberry
  • Echinacea (those pretty cone flowers in your summer garden)
  • Thyme
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Lemon Balm
  • Cinnamon
  • Mullen
  • Barberry (the berries are bitter but they help your immune system)
  • Yarrow

These are a just a few of the hundreds of natural medicines out there. Just be sure to do some research first and check with your doctor. Before becoming skeptical of these remedies just remember what people used prior to modern day medicines and continue to do so today. When you are miserable, you are ready to put wet moss in your ear for pain.......

"When the best leader's work is done the people say "We did it ourselves!" - Lao Tzu

I live in a small community outside a large city where we still have farmland and relatively little crime. This summer there was an uproar on behalf of some residents because the planning commission changed their master plan  and ordinances without consulting the public to allow an out of state developer build some "high end" apartments in the backyards of some of our community members. Needless to say that did not go over well within the township! It was amazing how quickly a grass roots community initiative grew up against the apartments. People talked with one another and shared views. Opposition signs went up along with an informative website. Residents called the township en mass. A petition was successfully complied. They won! The initiative is tabled until 2016 which will give the group more time to strengthen their leadership stance and have an impact on the rest of the community. It was organic grass roots leadership at it's finest. I love it!

You never know where leadership will sprout and flourish. It's like the plants and herbs that we use to soothe what ails us when we are sick. It's similar to the unique ancient plants that have been utilized for years as a base to spurn better medicines and build us up. Popping a "leadership pill" isn't always the best remedy. Sometimes we need to sit back and look around us to really see that what we need is right in front of us. We use good old fashioned grass roots leadership  to get back to the basics and make things happen for our "community"

Leadership can't be forced, it has to be natural and organic. Forced leadership is a dictatorship. Organic leadership grows from the "ground up" because strong leaders create something special through contribution, culture, and community. Natural leadership means leading where you are  and giving others the vision so that they can drive a common goal.

Here's what Natural Leadership looks like:

  • Grass roots from the people doing the work
  • Lead from where you are. No titles needed
  • Compassion
  • Humanistic
  • Morphs to meet the needs of others 
  • Values people
  • Hands off - let your people drive the process while you guide them
  • Form a network or community to achieve
  • Culture is key
  • Motivating - a call to action
  • Effortless  and natural. It feels right
If you look closely, natural or organic leadership is just like taking herbs or plants to strengthen your system. They both grow from the ground and enable things (YOU) to flourish and become a stronger person!

Volunteers Are The Real Lights This Holiday Season

"A candle loses nothing by lighting another Candle" - James Keller

Just in the past 2 weeks I have seen holiday lights pop up everywhere in every shape, size, and color! As I drive around neighborhoods I'm amazed, and puzzled, how some of the lights ended up where they now hang sparkling away. I love Christmas lights and I wish that most of them would stay up year round. There's nothing like a twinkle in the trees and a warm summer breeze to help me relax and enjoy the night colors of a garden. The glow of  lights always brings a glean to our eyes and wonderment at all the kaleidoscope  of colors. The best part about lights this time of year is the reaction that they bring out in people and the delight in young  happy faces.

There is an endless array of lights to choose from. I remember when I was little we were stuck with the big, colored, hot lights that looked fake and BIG! Now we have LED, color changing, icicle, net, solar, specialty, globe, Princess, Sponge Bob, Mickey Mouse, - the list is endless! What I enjoy is how lights just seem to give and give while twinkling  their hearts out.

What are YOU doing this year to bring out the light in people?

To me, the true bright lights of the season are all the wonderful unsung heroes that volunteer year round to help others. These giving souls kick it into high gear during the holidays and have a passion for making a difference. These "lights" don't ask for recognition or a standing ovation. Volunteers love to bring out the light in others and leave a lasting glow. I have a close friend that runs around this time of year delivering for the Santa Claus girls. She's exhausted but glows after a long day. At my company we had an Angle Tree for those who have so little. The generosity of complete strangers was astounding. The giving bestowed a glow that lasts throughout the holidays. I've seen it so many times - people doing for people.

As I get older I am less enchanted with the holiday season itself, the presents, the relatives, and the Christmas splashed all over for weeks and weeks. What warms me is seeing others give so much of themselves expecting nothing in return. No applause, no spotlight, no newsflashes. Just humans being, well, human. I eat up stories about people doing for other people. Being a light in the dark. Bringing hope and letting others know someone is thinking of them. Why can't the lights shine bright all year?

If volunteers are the lights, then our various charity organizations are colorful bright beacons. These organizations run on passion and their volunteers are their electricity. If you have ever worked with groups of volunteers you know that it's important to keep those 'lights" burning so that your volunteers have the time, energy, and drive to carry the light out to those that need it. Leading volunteers is a gift and you need to keep them glowing and growing in order to help others.
How do you keep the light burning when leading volunteers?
  • Select the right people. Find those that share your vision and understand your mission so they stay on board for the long term.
  • Consistently share your organization's mission and goals. Update your volunteers on your progress.
  • Show your passion, frustrations, hopes, and disappointments. Be human. Be a leader.
  • Help your volunteers connect with each other and feel a part of the group.
  • Help your people to learn and grow with your organization. Keep them informed.
  • Enable your people to  shine all year. Let them know every day how critical they are to your success.
  • Play and have fun. Set up times to socialize with other volunteers to share stories,  struggles, and triumphs.
  • Constantly coach and mentor people. You will lose volunteers if you fail to mentor them and don't consistently connect.
  • Provide professional training and support.
  • Let your people lead. Have them set the direction and become leaders of new volunteers.
  • Say thank you every day.
  • Know how people want to be thanked. Some volunteers cringe at public recognition. Some eat it up!
  • Celebrate wins as a team. Cry on each others shoulders when there's pain.
  • Be approachable and "one" of them. If you are a director remember that titles are just that - letters.
  • Remind yourself that YOU are the electrical current that can keep those volunteers glowing. Keep the lights on!

"A volunteer is like a rare gem. When placed in the right setting and cared for, they will shine and give pleasure to all who see them" - Unknown

Leading volunteers is a gift and such an honor. They are the energy in any organization. I know from experience how easily volunteers slip away and how challenging it is to keep their fire lit. Take care of your people. Help them grow as individuals and in your organization. Challenge them. Thank them every day. Make them feel needed. Empower them to bring your message out into the community. Be the electricity to keep their light glowing.

To all who volunteer all year long.. THANK YOU!

Photo courtesy of newwavegurly via Comfight

Please, Don't Be A Turkey!

"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow" - Melody Beattie

Photo courtesy of Marfis 75 via compfight

It's turkey time again for Americans. That's on top of all the high caloric food that we all vow to resist but can't! Years ago I finally decided what bugs me about the holidays this time of year. Too many people are thankful just two months out of the year. It's probably only because many of us are"guilted" into showing our thanks or for some, pretending that they are thankful. Being grateful should be a daily occurrence for all of us. Every day we should sit back and reflect even for mere minutes what we are thankful for. Those thanks should focus NOT on the material goods that we hav, but for life, health, family, rewarding work etc.

Not only should we be thankful for all that we have in our lives, we should voice what we are thankful for to those that it really matters - our families, friends, and teams. Make a practice of thanking people every day for what they do. Tell them the impact that they have in your life and those that they are around every day. Lead by example. Show gratitude in every way that you can and it will come around to reward those that you serve.

Showing gratitude has an enormous impact. It builds trust and fosters communication. It costs nothing but means so much. Be sincere or don't bother at all - people can see through falsities. Thanking others is one of the most powerful and empowering things that you can do for people. Start today and offer up at least one thanks every day!

T - Tell them thanks
H - Hand out compliments and empowering words
A - Ask how you can help them
N - Never thank someone publicly if they are shy or scared of attention. Do it privately
K - Kinds word mean more than money to so many and have a lasting effect
S - Say it often and mean it!

Photo courtesy of Cheery Tomato via Comflight

Don't forget that there are so many ways to show gratitude. It can be in person or by sending a note. It can be at the office or to someones home. How about thanking a spouse or family too ? Use your imagination. No matter how you do it, DO IT!

"Give thanks for a little and you will receive a lot" - Hansa Proverb

It's OK To Be Bare

"Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing" - Abraham Lincoln

Photo courtesy of EJP via Compfight

The howling Halloween winds last week snaked through our trees quickly and with force last week.The scenic color palette of yellows, reds, and orange went down without a fight. The result was a scenery of colorless brown trees with a colorful crunching skirting of leaves. Yup. It really is fall now in the Midwest. As sad as I am to see my gardens go to sleep and the trees baring all, it really is a great feat of Mother Nature.

Trees are a lot like us when it comes to the seasons. Their alarm clock to start shutting down is the failing light as the days shorten and the air is colder. Their chlorophyll stops flowing and the leaves slowly change color. Despite what you think, the winds don't grab the leaves off the trees. The trees themselves throw off their leaves like a winter coat. As the days shorten, trees send a signal to the spot where the leaves are attached. The spot where the leaves are attached to the branches are sealed. No fluid can get in or out and the leaves are dropped by the tree. Result? Naked trees.

This whole magical process doesn't happen just so that you can venture out on color tours. The tree instinctively knows that it needs to protect itself in order to battle the cold and snow. The chemicals that were flowing to the leaves are diverted to the tree roots to fortify the entire root system and in the spring, the tree. The bottom line? Being bare is a good thing!

Photo courtesy of Theen via Compfight

I LOVE how the face of leadership has evolved over the years. I remember years ago when I joined a management training program with a local bank right out of college. Back then leaders thought that they needed to act "leaderly". They were more stoic, more commanding, and everyone was expected to follow them (plus most were men!). Input wasn't generally solicited or wanted. They had the final word. Times have changed. Leaders today seek input, show empathy, are more servant leaders than commanders. They see the benefits of empathy. In short, our leaders today are human. We all want to work with or for people who act like us. No matter where you lead from or whom you lead - Don't be afraid to "bare" yourself to people and act human.

What does it mean to be a "bare leader"? It means NOT being afraid to show empathy and emotion. It means being authentic and "you". It means being a servant leader rather than a commander. It means being yourself while earning your leadership title. It means encouraging and empowering people to grow and want to follow you. In short:

Don't be afraid to bare yourself!

  • Don't think that hiding emotion is what leaders do. Bottling feelings up and acting stoic doesn't make anyone a hero. It makes you look weak and pushes people away.
  • People smell fake a mile away. Too much sugar coating and BS WILL be evident. Is it worth it?
  • People want the bare truth. They don't want weak answers or any beating around the bush tactics. You end up clouding situations and making rash decisions in the long run. Being authentic and true eliminates issues that you can avoid.
  • In connecting, speaking, writing, life, HOW you say something if far more important than what you say. How many times have you written or read an email and it's how the information was relayed? It threw you into an emotional tail spin, not what was said. I just had this last week!  
  • Baring your true self really does build trust, strengthen relationships, and help others relate to you.
  • Leaders build vision. Vision takes skill and really jumping into the minds of your people. You can't do that without getting to know them and gaining joint trust.
  • Sharing emotions really goes a long way towards influencing how people think, behave, and react. This also intertwines with your vision creating.
  • Show your passion. Share your frustrations. People want to know that you too have doubts, fears, ideas, and don't know everything.
  • Strong leaders know that showing their real self will help groups bond together to find solutions or make change. You don't want to provide all the answers. Truthfully, you need your people more than they need you. Without them, there is no growth or passion to push on to grow and achieve.
Don't try to go it alone in life. Rely on others and "bare" your authentic self. When you show those Cub Scouts how passionate you are about climbing an obstacle wall but confident in them and that YOU are scared, they will relate and try harder. They will feed on your passion and confidence in them to scrabble right up that wall. When tough department choices have to be made, be truthful and share your indecisiveness to allow your team to give input and work through it. They are closest to the situation. 

Be human. Bare yourself. It's OK

Got Transplant Shock?

Photo Courtesy of davidwhitedesigns via Compfight
"Grow Where You Are Planted"?

Gardening is a lot like life. You get tossed a few curve balls at the most unexpected times. Just when your garden is rolling along flourishing and throwing out color, it throws you a surprise. It's in the dead of the heat during the summer and you need to move a few plants or a tree. Even a novice gardener knows that moving plants is nuts in 90 degrees but it can't be avoided. Time to slip out an  get moving. The question is "Will it grow where it's planted next?"

There are numerous reasons that you may need to move plants or trees in August. Crazy gardeners like myself may have an epiphany to suddenly move a plant because I have  a new design in mind, a plant is overwhelming it's neighbors, or I have a new plant I want in it's plant. Out I go with my shovel. Most people only move plants when they need to. A prime example is when someone is moving to a new house and they want to bring some prized plants or trees with them. In this case, you just can't wait. Plants can be moved with a little prep and tender care.

Plants and trees will not appreciate being moved when the sun is intense, the heat is wet, and they will be "naked" for a bit with their roots exposed. They are flourishing where they are and up you pop with a shovel (or two!) and a few buddies to dig them up and turn their world upside down - sometimes literally. If they could talk they may ask you "Will I really grow where I am replanted?"

Here's some tips to help pave the way for your new plants and trees to adjust to their new home and grow:
  • Water the plant really well the day before the big move. Soak tree root balls generously.
  • Aim to make the move on an overcast or late day time frame.
  • Remove 1/3 of the plant stems to help prevent shock. Do not prune trees.
  • Trees have "drip lines". This is where the canopy of the tree grows out horizontally. The tree roots will extend this far and it's where you should try and dig around the tree to get as many roots as possible.
  • Make clean sharp cuts around the root ball of the plant or tree. Avoid ripping out the roots.
  • Aim to keep the root ball as large and intact as possible to protect the roots.
  • Move your jewel into it's new pre-dug hole immediately and partially fill with water.
  • Cover the plants with soil, mulch, and water well.
  • Shade the plant for at least 3-5 days. Depending on the size of the plant or tree, cover with an umbrella or tarp to keep it shaded so that it can recover.
  • DO NOT fertilize the plant after moving. It's not established enough to take up the nutrients and you may kill it.
  • Water the plant every day for a few weeks.
  • Don't be surprised if your plants or tress drop leaves. This is a survival mechanism and the plant will recover. Evergreens may develop brown tips which is normal.
  • If you are moving plants to a new home, place them in plastic bags so that only their roots are covered. Keep them in the shade and keep the roots moist.
  • Set us a shaded temporary nursery at your new home and "heel" the plants in until you are ready to plant. Heeling plants in means placing hem in temporary holes similar to what you see in nurseries. Keep them shaded and well watered. Try and protect them from wind on their trip to your house and in their nursery.
Don't be surprised if your plants and trees look, well, sick for awhile. They have experienced a huge shock and need time to adjust to their new home before they can begin growing. Give them continuous care and nurture them and you will be well rewarded! This change for them came out of nowhere in the dead of summer and they have a road of recovery ahead!

Have you ever had transplant shock?

Photo Courtesy of t3mujin via Compfight

"People are disturbed not by a thing, but by their perception of a thing" - Epictetus

We've all had an unexpected shock of some type in our lives. Perhaps when we look back we may have seen signs or had some intuition. Something happens in our lives and we are thrown upside down for a time. The best part of life's little surprises? We grow, we learn, and we become only stronger as we move on. A few weeks  ago I felt like a soon to be transplanted tree in my garden. I learned that my company will be merging. Our tranquil "garden" at work will become part of a larger flourishing landscape. You know what? Once planted, we will all begin to grow and become part of something better. The key is surviving the "transplant shock" and remaining open and positive!
Humans generally hate change. It's new, it can be scary, and we like to feel in control. Like trees, we don't want to moved and are stubborn to grow in our new spot.

Got Weeds? Most Companies Do!

"Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds" - Gordon B Hinckley

Photo courtesy of Monteregina via Compfight.com
Finally! Spring has arrived in the Midwest - about 6 weeks late. The tree buds are out and I can literally see everything growing. The weeds that is. It's always amazed me how fast weeds take off in the cold Spring. Some of them spurt when the snow is still on the ground. If you don't catch some weeds early you will be tormented for years with generations of offspring - everywhere.

My husband hates Dandelions. Their cheery little faces drive him to distraction. I'm rather thankful that they are so bright and irritating to him. He will spend hours walking around the lawn pulling the little devils out with his handy dandy weed tool. Me? I hate them too but I prefer to walk around spraying them with herbicide (sorry all you organics out there - too much to do, too little time). Last year my older sons decided to make Dandelion wine so they spent hours picking the flowers for their main ingredient. It didn't kill the Dandelions but I couldn't see them as easily. By the way, the wine wasn't very good.....

It's amazing how weed growth outpaces the growth of any other greenery.  Some of the worst weeds even start spurting before the snow is  melted. By the time I notice them, they have started to choke out the growth of everything around them. The key to conquering the weed fight is staying on top of it before you become engulfed in a twining jungle. Yup - I definitely "Got Weeds" this Spring!

Before you start pulling weeds out in frustration - make sure that it's weeds that you are yanking. Weeds tend to be scattered all over, whereas your perennials will clump. Even if you aren't an avid gardener it's good to know what everything should look like as it's popping up in the Spring or you will have a lot of new planting to do! Here are some of the "baddest" weeds out there:

  • Grasses: These are grasses not placed anywhere by you or where you even want them. These include Crab, Bermuda, and Quack grass. They have sneaky underground rhizomes and have thicker leaves.
  • Dandelion: You can eat it, bees love 'em, but Dandelions can be a nightmare. Their tap root can grow down as far as 1 foot and they seed like crazy. Pay your kids $.05 per plant to pull them. It's worth it!
  • Bindweed: This is a perennial weed so it will keep coming back for a visit every year. It's also called the "Zombie Plant" because it's so hard to get rid of. The roots can ultimately grow 30 feet deep! It leaves seeds behind for you that can live for 50 years. Destroy this one!
  • Chickweed: You can eat it, it's an annual that can grow in the winter and it spreads fast.
  • Ground Ivy: Ever plant some Ivy and regret it? Yup. It spreads and it's thick. It's a problem weed in the Eastern part of the US. Keep on pulling!
  • Canadian Thistle: This one is prickly and hurts to pull if you don't wear armor. It's hard to get rid of and loves to seed.
  • Poison Ivy: This is more of an evil plant than a weed but it is evil to the core! It is deliberate and tricky where it grows and you often don't have it until you are full of bumps and itchy. Some people are dangerously allergic to Poison Ivy and you need a regular regimen of attacking it early.
  • Red Sorrel: I hate this weed! It's easy to pull although as the roots are rhizomes and fibrous. I have this weed everywhere in my garden and it sneaks up on me. It loves to grow right in the middle of plant foliage where it's hard to see and pull. It grows before the snow is gone and I hate it! GRRRR

After you identify your weedy friends, you need to pick your choice of weapon and keep focused on killing them without harming nearby plants or yourself. You need to know your enemy because the last thing that you want to do is pull Poison Ivy or Poison Oak out by hand! Here are some common weed weapons:

  • Dig/pull out by hand or with a small spade or hoe - always wear gloves!
  • Get on them right away and get the entire root
  • Mulch your flower beds - it prevents seeds from sprouting and keeps plants moist
  • Edge your beds to keep the weeds on the "other" side
  • Pour vinegar on them
  • Kill them with natural Neem oil sprays
  • Burn them
  • Smother them with black plastic
  • Spray with Roundup or a similar herbicide
  • Eat them!

Weeds aren't just a garden problem. Your company too has weeds!

There's an old saying that one person's weeds are another one's flowers. How true! There are certain flowers that I am delighted to see pop up in my beds. Someone else may pull their hair out over it!Your work space is no different. I guarantee that you can look around right now and see the "weeds". They may even work within feet of you. Moreover, you can't figure out why someone (your boss??) isn't getting out some spray to quickly take care of the nuisance. Perhaps.....your idea of a "weed" is your boss's idea of a flower. It's a dilemma.

Sometimes in practice it just isn't easy to weed out poor employees. It takes time, diligence, there may be management resistance, politics, and just plain ole management laziness. The problem is that the "weedy" employee doesn't go away. He or she just spreads more seeds of discontent and causes more issues until the infestation is too much. In order to keep the garden growing there comes a point when "weedy" employees have to be pulled.

Top "weeds" that you need to remove from your company:

  • Weak link employees: They do enough work to just get by and aren't ever going to go the extra mile to contribute more. No leader has succeeded in turning around their performance and they have somehow remained just below the radar. Everyone knows that they just skate by and this really aggravates high performers. Long term, this weed pulls down a group.
  • Slow, steady, and just "there": These people seemingly don't care how they handle their work. They don't bother to stay under the radar. They openly have no goals, no purpose, no plans. They just show up. They have checked out and they just exist. It's not fair to the team to even keep them around. Eradicate them.
  • Teenagers: These are the rebels. They live to cause trouble and don't hide their intentions. They seem to think that it's their job to tell everyone "like it is" and like the attention. They love to challenge and watch the fallout.
  • Germs: These moody, crabby, negative people will infect an entire team with their comments and attitude. They willingly spread their negativity because it makes them feel better. They love to cause issues between people and thrive on conflict. Dig them out into the compost so they can't continue to spread!
  • Dinosaurs: These employees are stuck in the past. They hate change and think that the "way we did things" is just fine and that the team should follow a steady course. They don't want to rock the boat or shake things up. They don't offer up innovative ideas or will try something new. If they ignore innovation it will just go away and life will be the same again.
  • Celebrities: This employee thinks that they ARE the solution to every problem and that they are the greatest gift since sliced bread. They think that they should be higher up in status and recognized more for all that they do. They have no time for teamwork and they are clearly out for themselves. Nothing makes them happy unless they get their way and they show it. Hoe them out of the patch!

No matter what type of weeding you do - identify it and address it - don't let it snake throughout your "garden".

Planning, building a team, nurturing, and leading your "garden" should be done in a way that fosters innovation, team growth, presents challenges, and withstands the threat of weeds. Sometimes you just gotta pick up that shovel and get digging!

Happy weeding!