The Greenhouse Effect

When I travel, which is somewhat frequently, I often have a house sitter to care for my cat and dogs when they are not traveling with me. I have several different people to call upon depending on when I am traveling and which of my animals will need to be cared for. One of the other duties I ask of my house sitters, besides checking the mail, is to water the various plants in my greenhouse.

Now, I don’t claim to have a green thumb but I am much better at keeping my plants alive than I was in the past. I have herbs, vegetables, and flowers growing together in my greenhouse. Lately, though, my plants have been larger and healthier than ever. In looking for the source, as I haven’t changed my routines, I concluded that it was because I was traveling. Someone besides me was giving my plants the attention that they needed, perhaps even more than I normally would when I am there. This experience is what I would like to term the Greenhouse Effect.

A greenhouse prevents heat from escaping and traps the energy within the space to help plants thrive in a warm, moist environment year round. My greenhouse can be the best, most efficient in the world, but because the environment is controlled, someone still needs to water and care for the plants or they will not thrive. Despite the fact that I care for my plants regularly, when someone else cares for them I see more growth and production than when I water them myself. My “greenhouse effect” is the resulting prosperity that my plants have when my greenhouse is in the care of someone who has time to attend to them.

Of course, we can attribute this phenomenon to the fact that because I am gone for a few days I notice the growth more than when I see the plants every day. But there is no denying that the number and size of my tomatoes increase overall when I am not the one watering them.

If I’m honest with myself, green thumb or no, I tend to water only when the leaves start to droop, which is to say not as often as I should due to a hectic schedule. When I am away, the house sitters water them per my instructions as often as the plants need, and the watered plants are happier plants.

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This greenhouse effect for my plants is similar to what happens when I leave my clients in the care of my team while I travel. I can usually continue to correspond with my clients on the fly when I’m out of town, but for emergencies where my remote access may not be the best, I keep my team up to speed and let them be a point of contact. My clients can be taken care of on time, not just when I am able to get to them.

Do my clients need me specifically to help them all the time or would my team actually do a better job of watering my client-plants in my absence than I do? Just because I can be connected in a pinch, do I need to be? The uncertainty of whether or not I will be able to respond to my clients’ needs when I am not at the office can be defused by the knowledge that my team is able to connect with them more easily and service them as well as I would. Perhaps my team can give the clients more TLC because they know how hard I have worked to earn my clients’ respect and they will want to be recognized upon my return for a job well done.

Either way, expanding your client base through involving your staff will generate additional synergy and energy, just like the greenhouse. Offering your colleague or subordinate a chance to work together with your client will present everyone new opportunities for growth by helping you identify areas of improvement for everyone — including yourself.

Carolyn Thompson resides in the Washington, D.C. area and has been an executive recruiter since 1988. She is Director of Human Resource Services Dixon Hughes Goodman, one of the largest CPA firms in the US. A creative entrepreneur and a certified career coach, she is frequently called upon by national news organizations such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and AOL Jobs among others to contribute content on a variety of topics. Her articles on career development and the employment industry have been published in various national magazines, trade journals, and on the Internet. An enthusiastic motivational speaker, she is a member of the National Speakers Association, The Pinnacle Society, and The International Coach Federation. She is certified by both the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) and the American Staffing Association (ASA) as a continuing education provider. Carolyn is an alumnus of Kansas State University and author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME and TEN STEPS TO FINDING THE PERFECT JOB, and TEN SECRETS TO GETTING PROMOTED available in select bookstores and on Her blog can be found at