I have been a dog parent for a little more than two years now. Dogs can teach us many things about life such as love, happiness, fulfillment, discipline, leadership, and mortality. My dog taught me a few HR lessons as well.
1. Leadership – Leadership is all about guidance and clarity of thoughts. When my dog looks up to me for my guidance, I must exactly know what my dog expects out of me by looking at her body language and behavior. As a pack leader, this requires me to have clarity as to what I expect out of my dog as well.
2. Motivation – One of the biggest HR problems many organizations face is how to motivate their employees. Apparently, a standard template of motivating employees does not work anymore. Different dogs have different things that motivate them. Dogs of similar breeds will have the same kind of motivation though not necessarily all the time. I have a golden retriever. She values playing fetch with me more than feeding her with treats. I have also, seen other golden retrievers that choose treats over fetch. Similarly, all of us have different motivations depending on what stage of life we are in.
3. Rewarding and recognizing desired outcomes/behavior – This combines the above two attributes. Once I knew what motivates my dog, I decided to reward her with that whenever she displays the desired behavior. Desired behavior/outcomes vary in different dog parents/owners, and this requires a clarity of thought from the part of the pack leader. For instance, when I take my dog out for a walk, the desired behavior from her part is to walk alongside me without pulling the leash and to focus on my instructions. If she displays this behavior, I recognize this either by giving her favorite treats or playing fetch. In case she was distracted or pulls the leash and jumps during the walk, I make sure I don’t reward her after her walk. That way she will know the exact difference in consequences of her behavior.
I am sure I will come back to this post to update with more lessons later. Meanwhile, please share if you have learned any valuable management lessons from your dog.