I went organic the minute I moved into my suburban home 19 years ago. I didn’t want my young children playing on a lawn that looked great, but had hidden within it poisonous herbicides and pesticides. At first, the lawn and flowerbeds were shocked. Parts of the lawn became scraggly and thin and certain flowers died, never to return.
Within about 3 years, however, the lawn and flowerbeds began looking much more robust. Over the next years, I figured out how to take care of them, what made them happy, which plants were a good fit and which ones wouldn’t make it no matter what I did and no matter how much I may have wanted them.
Of course, the weeds pop up. In the lawn, the trick is having it be so healthy that it crowds most weeds out. In the flowerbeds, it’s about constant weeding and deadheading.
Crabgrass is one of the weeds that gets pulled; it’s ugly and will take over the lawn. In the spring, when the bright yellow dandelions are silhouetted against the dark green of the lawn, it looks beautiful. They are signs of lawn and garden health. They can stay.
I think we need to make the workplace more organic. To have a healthy work environment, you need to carefully tend to it. Leaders must have a passion for their business and also for their employees. They must make sure employees have what they need to do their jobs and help the company grow. There needs to be openness, which serves as the fertilizer for new ideas.
What to do about the employees who are talented but difficult? I think they’re like dandelions. Carefully managed, these workers can add great value. They can even be trained and cultivated to be more cooperative.
Managers must understand, however, that if an employee is not a good fit, is, perhaps, talented, but not talented enough to overshadow the difficult-ness, managing him or her will sap all time and energy. They are like crabgrass and have to go.
A perfect garden is not a healthy garden. Neither is a perfect workplace.
Ruth Sherman Associates LLC  / High-Stakes Communication / Greenwich, CT