Problem Employees

Got Weeds? Most Companies Do!

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

Photo courtesy of Monteregina via
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!