How to Grow a Thriving Team

I love Monty Don. Seeing the gorgeous gardens he visits, the glorious plants he describes. I am fascinated by how Monty selects his plants and nurtures each and every one so that they thrive. 

Last week, when watching Gardeners’ World, Monty’s work reminded me of the similarities between gardening and the work that I do, helping people at work who may be sick or not able to perform to their full potential, and helping leaders grow thriving teams.

As the growing season is upon us, and we face unprecedented challenges, I am aware now more than ever of the importance of nurturing a happy and productive team.

Using Monty as my inspiration, these are my top 3 tips!

1. Prepare the environment

How to grow a thriving team

When it comes to gardening, the most fundamental lesson is to prepare the environment before planting.

Every plant thrives when the soil is prepared properly, adding compost and fertiliser and nurturing the soil with the right nutrients whilst loosening stones and rocks where appropriate. Even the hardiest plants like mint or Begonia need the right environment to thrive and grow, and Monty often ensures the soil is prepared specifically to that very plant.

Just like preparing the soil for plants, it is vital to prepare the working environment for your team, particularly now that there is an unprecedented shift to home working, which may continue for many months or years to come, even when lockdown is lifted.

Having a healthy, safe and engaging environment is key, and that includes taking the time to get to know each team member, reassuring them where appropriate, and working out how best to help them perform to the best of their abilities, whilst also achieving business objectives.

Try to provide a fertile environment to encourage your teams creativity and learning. Employees who have training and development opportunities tend to be happier and more fulfilled in their roles and have a brighter outlook on their future with the company.

Supporting a creative environment is more challenging during lockdown. A recent article in the Financial Times noted that workers find that slow living can spark ideas, and noted that William Shakespeare allegedly wrote King Lear during a plague and Sir Isaac Newton formulated the theory of gravity in quarantine in the 17th century.

We, as leaders, must do all we can to help our teams through these changing and challenging times. 

2. Identify the right tools for the job

How to grow a thriving team

Every gardener needs a collection of decent tools, and Monty’s advice is that the right tools should make gardening easier and more pleasurable. 

The same can be said for your workplace. Clearly, people’s workplaces have changed and businesses need to do all they can to help their employees in creating a suitable work environment at home, including providing the right training, tools and equipment. 

Not everyone will be working structured hours, not everyone will have a quiet or suitable office, many will be juggling home schooling and working from a shared table. Be reasonable with deadlines. 

Many people will miss the challenges and inspiration they get from their teams during face to face brainstorms or meetings. Finding ways to stay in touch to support the mental health and wellbeing of our teams is key, and each business will have a way that works for them.

Now more than ever, trust, flexibility and clear communication is a key factor in creating the right environment for productive work.

People’s health and well-being should be at the heart of what we do.

3. Tend to your garden 

How to grow a thriving team


Paying attention to your garden can have the very best results. There is nothing better than getting on your hands and knees and weeding the beds. Some plants go astray, either withering and dying,  and some grow out of control, needing to be nurtured, directed or cut back. 

When working in your garden, Monty advises taking that step back to survey the garden and determine improvements, next steps and set a longer term plan.

When it comes to the workplace, good leaders pay attention to their teams and help them work to their optimum capabilities given the environment they are in. 

Some team members perform well and are promoted to a better position, whilst others will thrive in a slightly different area of the business. Just as Monty manages and organises his gardens with care and precision, it’s your role as a leader to do the same. Monty rarely throws out plants which are struggling, he likes to identify the reasons why and looks at ways that he can help nurture them back to health.

Watering plants is like saying thank you to employees for a job well done, a simple thank you can go a long way, not forgetting the more tangible rewards like pay rises or extra benefits.

In the midst of a global pandemic it can be hard to plan whilst navigating such uncertainty, however we should all be thinking about what the future could look like. With every setback and struggle comes a valuable lesson and hopefully the opportunity to learn and grow. 

Every plant contributes to making your garden glorious, just like every employee in your business contributes to making your business successful. 

Now more than ever, we need to be like Monty. The reward is great. 



Author: Doreen Miller Founder of Miller Health 

Posted in

Dr Doreen Miller


  1. James H M Graham on April 29, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    An inspirational blog from Dr Miller in language that most of us can relate with, even if our own gardens are modest. It’s not just the planting; it’s the nurturing over time that produces the end result. All businesses can benefit from that simple lesson.

  2. Jane Duncan Rogers on April 30, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    What a great post Doreen! having spent a lot more time in the garden recently, like you, I love this analogy, thanks so much!

  3. Ann McCracken on April 30, 2020 at 9:27 pm

    Excellent observations – thank you!

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