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Daytime in the Garden of Good and Evil

A member of The EO List and I connected recently. She has earned two certificates in human resources management but is having difficulty transitioning into an entry-level HR role from her current call centre job. After a lot of time and expense she is frustrated. She wanted some advice on how to approach this challenge.

She isn’t the only one venting frustration these days. I’ve run into many HR Professionals, some a part of The EO List, who for a variety of reasons are feeling frustrated about the job prospects within our profession.

There never seems to be the right variety of jobs available for the supply of HR Professionals. For awhile the complaint was that the jobs were too senior, and now there is an over-concentration of mid-level jobs and not enough at the entry level. We have too many people entering the profession at the wrong point in the recession. We have too many people searching for that coveted C-Level HR job. We don’t have a good way of grooming folks for labour relations jobs. We don’t have enough bilingual HR folks. Companies don’t understand HR and therefore don’t structure jobs properly. Companies don’t know what type of HR Professional they really need. Believe me, I hear it all.

After my colleague had vented a little, she changed the subject. She indicated that was looking for some assistance with her garden. She said she knew I liked gardening and wanted my suggestions on the type of grass and fertilizer to use in our climate.

I could hardly contain my outburst of laughter. “You’re asking me?”, I inquired.

Yes, I like gardening, but I’m hardly a person to be giving advice about grass and fertilizer. Let me explain why.

In our neighbourhood, we’re known for having the “nuclear garden”. This is not a compliment. Everything in my garden, and I mean everything, is on the verge of being overgrown. Plants that are normally 3 feet tall when they are mature are 5 feet tall. Worse, if I don’t constantly keep track of them they will be 10 feet tall. This means that I have a giant make work project on my hands whereby I am regularly pruning or moving plants to keep the situation under control.

In all likelihood, the reason for the growth is the good soil and the amount of sun in my yard. If it is true however that most plants like abuse, then there is a good possibility that that is the secret to how my garden grows.

Yes, I enjoy myself when I’m gardening but in a sick and twisted way. I like the mindlessness of it. I can think about that challenge at work and I can pull a weed. I can talk to plants and they don’t talk back to me. I can prune a bush and no person or their family is impacted. Luckily for people I have this outlet with plants.

We don’t have a lot of grass, but I really like to keep it in check. The grass is my husband’s responsibility. This summer I noticed several weeds in the lawn so I sent him off to the store to buy a big sack of weed and feed and a bag of good grass seed. This interested him about as much as cleaning paint brushes but he did it anyway. Long story short, his mind wasn’t into the task at hand, he didn’t read the directions on the fertilizer thoroughly and he fried the lawn. FRIED it. It was so bad I thought my next door neighbour was going to send us a condolence card.

Again, lucky for people I have this outlet with plants.

This week, I noticed that the Chicago Southwest SHRM chapter is holding its annual Whine and Dine. That’s right, W-H-I-N-E and Dine. I think I need to take a road trip as I guess I’m feeling a little whiny myself. It sounds like a grand time.

Getting back to my garden story, I have uncovered a new lesson–you can take your life into the garden and your garden will grow but you can’t take gardening practices and apply them in your life and work or people will get hurt.

And this concludes our episode of Daytime in the Garden of Good and Evil.


  1. Great story Bonni! It resonates well with me…not the gardening part…just the transition into HR part!

    To the person to whom Bonni is referring in the story…I recently transitioned into HR and likely experienced similar challenges as you! I'd like to connect an share stories and vent a little. Connect with me on LinkedIn at

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