The Gardener’s Guide to Recruiting: The Rain Garden

If I had my way, my garden would be overflowing with roses. What I had to learn the hard way is that you have to have the right conditions…. The right sun, the right soil, and you can’t force things to thrive in conditions that aren’t right. You can get the healthiest, most stunning rose and if you plant it in the wrong conditions it will not thrive… You may have it limp along and not ever reach the potential of what it could be. If it sitting with “wet feet” in a rain garden, it’s guaranteed to be in distress.

It is the same in hiring.

You may have the most talented hire but if the conditions are wrong for that person they will not hit the potential of what they could be. It’s important to identify what qualities are needed for an employee to thrive in the right role. Is this a person who needs mentoring? Is this a role where it is critical to be detail oriented? Is this an employee who will succeed in a start-up or do they need a more established company? Do you have an extrovert in the backoffice?

Gardening and hiring can be tricky. Conditions change. The garden in summer is more forgiving. I have planted only to realize that a plant put in the ground in optimal conditions may not survive a wet fall or winter. The only solution is to recognize when there is a mistake and find a more hospitable section of the garden where the plant will thrive. Dig it up and change it’s location. In companies, talented hires may come into an organization at a point in the market where they thrive. They may not be the right fit in more adverse market conditions. The best solution is to realize that you may not have the person in the right place and shift the person to a role where their strengths are better utilized.

I no longer plant roses in boggy conditions. I’ve found the water loving plants that are meant for a rain garden… iris, turtleheads, the joe pye, marshmallow, cardinal and coneflowers. In hiring, it’s never straight forward. People don’t come with instruction cards advising the best conditions for them to thrive. That said, if someone isn’t thriving in a role, it doesn’t mean that they are not talented or don’t have the potential to become a great hire. It may be that they are not in the right environment and that some adjustments could make all the difference.

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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.