My children blessed us with a darling ten week old Shih Tzu puppy this past Christmas.
Maggie is now almost seven months old and we have decided to start her in dog training to help us influence some of her behaviors.
Maggie is finishing up her first week of training and we had our “parent-teacher” conference this week and I was surprised at how the simple concepts they taught us for how to “manage” our pooch is so similar to leading and managing employees.
This is what we learned.
What we learned is dogs, like humans, need to be told what is expected of them, corrected when they do not do it, and praised and rewarded when they do.
In dog trainer terms, this is the order:
Ok, let’s break these down.
This is when you share your expectations with the dog and set their goals.
This is very similar to when we set expectations through employee goals for our staff.
It is a matter of helping them understand what is expected of them and clearly communicating what it is you would like them to do.
For dogs, the command may be to climb onto their dog bed, sit or come to you.
Commands for our employees may be in the form of direction to help them accomplish their goals.
As an example, “Sue I would like for you to give me a report on the number of comment cards we’ve received and your recommended plan of action in response to those cards by Friday.”
This is also an example of SMART goals.
Correction comes in when the dog does not follow the command.
In the doggie world, since dogs don’t speak English, there is a collar that is placed on the pooch that is pulled to put a slight pressure on the dog’s neck to communicate that the behavior they are demonstrating is not the desired behavior.
This is to be done every time the dog does not follow a command and then when they do, they get praised.
Part of the reinforcement is ensuring that the employee has the tools to perform their job tasks.
As an example, it may not be fair to correct an employee who does not perform good service recovery for a customer when they have not been trained on how to do it.
However, if they have had the training and do not do it, they may need to have a coaching session to help explain the importance of following through with their responsibility to meet the customer’s needs.
Praising is ongoing and should be done every time the dog demonstrates the desired behavior.
Just like what we do as leaders and managers, we should constantly be looking for times to interact with employees and let them know when they are doing a good job.
This is something that is ongoing and constant.
For example, “Tina, I observed you dealing with that difficult customer today. Great job diffusing the situation”.
Like any good performance management system, a good reward is always the carrot to get the desired end result.
In the dog world, they get a dog treat as positive reinforcement for demonstrating desired behaviors.
In our world, the reward would be a nice raise, perhaps a bonus or sometimes just an extra day off.
Being creative with administering rewards can create a successful reward system.
For example, “Steve you have met all of your goals ahead of schedule so we are going to give you a $500 gift card to the store of your choice. Thanks for a job well done!”
In our busy daily lives with managing our operations, it is always important to remember these simple concepts and how they can have a significant impact on accomplishing organizational objectives.