A Gardener’s Guide To Recruiting: All Trees Must Fall

I spent an inordinate amount of time over the last 18 months wandering my garden and talking with people on the phone… both clients and candidates.

Zoom fatigue set in long ago and I prefer to learn about people “old school” with a call. I also walk during these conversations amongst the trees and flowers.

Occasionally, I spot something spectacular like an eagle or fox.

Again, I am reminded of recruiting. The recent grads are like sunflowers full of enthusiasm, growing quickly and adding to the garden’s delights. There are the slow and steady growers who provide infrastructure and grounding to both the companies and the garden. I have a towering pine leaning slightly. An arborist came out and told me that trees are either coming up or coming down and that eventually, all trees must fall…

This tree provides a home to a fox at its base and can be seen from far and wide. No imminent danger I was told, but eventually it would have to come down. I thought about talks with employees… The conversations of having done what they have set out to accomplish and though they love their teams, they see a diminished path for growth and must leave. The idea that all trees must fall.

All employees must at some point leave…

It’s unusual for someone to spend the entirety of their career at one company. Even then, they will eventually retire leaving a bit of an ache that they have left. Most people do not spend their careers in one place.

Generally, the best line of action is to grow within a company where you’ve contributed and learned all that you can and then find a new opportunity where your talents can be best utilized. I’m not ready to let my pine go.

I am looking at strategies to top it off where it won’t be so towering it is a danger when it falls. Hopefully, the fox’s den will remain and woodpeckers and raptors start making a home with the changes.

For companies, try to retain the people who have made you great.

Check with top performers and get a temperature check on if they are happy and feeling challenged. Show them a realistic path for growth and let them know that their enrichments of the company are recognized.

When a tree falls and your most valued team member puts in notice, thank them, wish them well on their next adventure, and let them know that the door remains open if anything changes.

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Kelly Herrick

Kelly Herrick is the founder of Searchlight, a digital recruitment firm specializing in media, advertising, and emerging technology. Originally from Texas, Kelly has made NY her home and lives with her husband, son, dog, and three cats in Westchester.