Pruning—It’s Not Just for Plants! How and Why to Prune People

According to my gardening chums, when you see the first haze of yellow on your forsythia it’s time to prune. With this in mind, I spent a good portion of yesterday afternoon trundling around with a wheelbarrow and some shears.

In between clipping sessions, I spoke with a client who is struggling with a senior member of his team who, although he’s good at his job, has also been spreading resentment and ill will.

Based on my day’s activities, I recommended he give his colleague a thorough pruning.

What does this accomplish? Well, according to various gardening websites, pruning plants allows sunlight to reach more areas of the plant, it brings energy to the plant that remains, and—my favorite— when done to trees and plants around public areas it ‘exposes places where bad people can hide’.

My idea was that pruning his colleague would do the same for his team: it would allow for ‘healthy growth’ in his colleague, not to mention bringing energy to team members who have been in shadow and exposing areas where bad energy has been lingering.

Is pruning something you want to begin in a haphazard fashion? No, as noted earlier, you need to wait for the right time. You need to consider what you want the final shape of the plant—in this case, your team—to look like. Finally, with plants you need sharp shears. With people, you need clear directives.

In other words, it’s not about cutting people down to size. It’s about finding a time to speak with them about your concerns; it’s about being clear about what is not acceptable—and why—so they understand why this ‘cut’ is being made; and it’s about having a clear vision of the direction in which you wish them to grow.