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June 2020
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TD Magazine

Grow Green

Evergreen Talent: A Guide to Hiring and Cultivating a Sustainable Workforce

By Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Career Press, 194 pp., $16.95

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In Evergreen Talent, Matuson provides a bounty of ideas to grow work teams. Metaphorically speaking, she reminds readers that supervision and gardening are a lot alike. She urges us to focus on building, developing, and retaining the fruits of our labor. This book leads us step by step to growing an evergreen workforce.

Do you have people with no growth potential who need to be let go? They are the minimalists, silent complainers, passive-aggressive employees, and inconsistent performers who zap your energy from those who really need you.

The ones in need are those with potential who are now stunted. They may be micromanaged (no sunlight), mismatched to climate, underutilized on withering vines, or lack nourishment to flourish. Matuson's TLC approach will help: Tend to their development needs, lift them with constructive feedback, and champion their efforts. Then, step back and allow the blooming to begin.

According to Matuson, too many organizations throw misguided money at perks and benefits. "All the free beer in the world won't make employees delusional enough to remain with a lousy boss," she concludes.

Instead, invest in hiring the strongest saplings for leadership and offer efforts toward sustainability throughout their careers. Supervisors, not HR, should build their own teams—recruiting applicants, selecting new hires, and developing them without HR's help.

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Where should you look for sprouts and saplings as future talent? Scout out college students driving for Uber or working for Starbucks. Look for energetic applicants age 50 and above. Look for nondegreed people with initiative—after all, is a degree really needed for the job?—and look to military vets. Also, don't discount your employee referral program. Build it up and make it sustainable.

Matuson focuses on building climate, commitment, employee development, and sense of purpose through great leadership. Nurture all new hires during their first year and beyond. If you don't, Matuson says you are "merely planting award-winning roses and never watering them."

This book is filled with templates, self-assessments, and access to an additional workbook to build evergreen talent. Along the way, the author introduces her Evergreen Cultivator, a series of questions to ask new employees at their 30-, 60-, and 90-day mark. Matuson's mantra is "Prune as you go and take care of the rest."

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About the Author

Peggy Swigart is department chair and professor of human resource management at Trident University International.

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