People management lessons I’ve learnt from my Dog

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The first few months are critical.

Frappe(our Golden retriever) is close to 3 years old and is fairly independent. However, when we first brought her home we made sure that we were always around watching on her. Toilet training takes time and we had to show a lot of patience during the early days. Getting her used to our home meant we had to spend time with her. We had to observe her closely to make sure we didn’t miss any signs of discomfort.

Similarly all new hires when they join a new company are nervous and go through a wide range of emotions and need a lot of care and attention in their early days, The first 3 months are critical and that’s when most new hires go through several anxious moments. If the organisation and the manager ensure that they are made to feel warm and comfortable during this stage, they tend to stay in the organisation for longer.

Consistency is important

One of things we learnt is that we have to be consistent whether it was with the commands that we taught or the timings for food being served. While setting boundaries in the house too we always made sure that we were consistent with the message so she wouldn’t get confused. No one likes inconsistent messages. We get the best from our team when they are clear about what to expect. By sending inconsistent messages especially around office ethics it confuses the employees more and invariably rules tend to be broken. An inconsistent message around key deliverables also confuses employees. As Managers we should make sure we support them achieve their targets by being clear and consistent.

Incentivise

Treats are any pets best friend and they work better when they come unexpected. We should never forget to reward our employees when they do well. A lot of times as Managers we tend to take our employees for granted. Everyone likes to be appreciated for his or her good work and you can never do enough. Rewards don’t necessarily mean that it has to be monetary. A simple praise or a pat on the back goes a long way in employees feeling motivated. If an employee has done well appreciating them will only increase their drive excite and motivate them to do better in the future.

Security and Comfort

When owners take care of their pets and provide them with love and a comfortable home the pet feels secure and safe. In the current turbulent working atmosphere one of the key expectations from employees is to have a sense of security while working with the company. No employee can put in his or her best when there is a constant fear of losing their job. Organisations should ensure that all employees have a high sense of job security and in case there is a genuine threat they have to alsomake sure that there is adequate communication to employees. Keeping quiet and wishing problems away is not going to work and in fact worsens the situation.

When you do well shout from the top of the roof

Frappe is pretty much a quiet and a no fuss dog. However, when she wants attention she will make it a point to bark and run around until she gets noticed. I know a lot of employees who go out of the way at times to meet a deadline or a deliverable but don’t make a big deal of it. While yes Managers should notice, it can be difficult at times as they themselves are juggling several balls. Its best for employees to make a noise so that they get noticed especially when they have done something exceptional.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in that.

Communicate effectively

Frappe doesn’t have a wide range of vocabulary (while we believe she understands everything we say and more) and so given the limitation it is important for us to be very clear in our communication. This holds well with our employees too. Being clear and crisp while giving directions make it easier for them too. I find a lot of managers spending a good part of their time doing and redoing presentations for their managers only because the communication was not clear the first time. This is an utter waste of time and effort. Communicating effectively will build a relationship of trust and Managers can enjoy higher productivity and performance from their team members.

Spend time with your employees

I make sure that I spend some quality time everyday with Frappe. Talking to her about how  she  went or sharing a story makes me feel good and I find that she thoroughly enjoys it too. As managers we have to take time out from our busy schedules to chat with our employees. It doesn’t always have to be about work. It could be a casual chat to make sure they are having fun and are enjoying their job. Structured 1 on 1’s also go a long way in boosting employee morale and improving employee engagement.

I am sure all of you who have pets would have learnt a few lessons from them. Extending those lessons to your job you do can have its fair share of advantages. Please share any interesting lessons you may have learnt, I’m sure there’s a lot to learn…

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