Dogs are amazing at reflecting back what humans’ desire. Most of us treat our pets like they are part of the family but I think my dog, Baci, thinks that she is an employee and a damn good one. My relationship with her has taught me as much as any off-site training or college course. Our relationship is simple and can guide you in your relationships at work.
1. Trust. Baci expects her meals to be timely and fair. She’s the first one to speak up if the kibbles are late to the bowl. My employees and customers expect the same when it comes to compensation, goods or services. You better be on time and accurate or there will be attrition.
2. Appreciation. There isn’t a dog who doesn’t demand their belly scratched once, twice, countless times a day. Your coworkers, boss or clients want the same “scratch” but I doubt they are up front about asking for it. Show them appreciation and more frequently than they expect.
3. Dutiful. Baci has very clear duties at the Graham House, keep it free of all squirrels, geese and lizards. She does an outstanding job. I am confident that she is on duty no matter what. We haven’t had squirrels take up residence, so I know she is on top of her game. You should have the same confidence in those who surround you at work. It’s best to assume they have your best interest at heart; that they are looking out for you. If some squirrels move in, then clarify what your expectations are.
4. Perspective. Baci has a different lens. She views things from ground level. I might be cutting up raw beef on the kitchen counter or potting a plant. She doesn’t care except for whatever falls on the floor and hopefully it’s the former. Your clients, cohorts and boss all have a different perspective and some are from the penthouse and others are in the basement. Make sure you know their perspective if you end up dropping something.
5. Attention. I admit that I lose sight of Baci’s priorities when I’m in my office concentrating on work. Sometimes I get up from my desk to find her sprawled at my feet and surrounded by her army of toys. She has carefully brought each toy as a gift while I wasn’t paying attention. Are your direct reports doing the same? Showing up early, staying late, working extra hours on that overdue project…are you paying attention?
6. Needs. Baci is exasperating at times. She can’t decide if she wants in or out, to sit on my lap or my husband’s; upstairs or down. Are your clients fickle and difficult to figure out? Are they changing their minds and causing you frustration. They are taking the cue from your guidelines and how malleable you are (I give in more easily than my husband on letting Baci in or out). Are you meeting your clients’ needs or tuning them out?
7. Team player. I love to dress up Baci. And she is happy to oblige (ok…I’m not sure she’s happy). Whether it’s some Halloween monstrosity or a pink rain jacket that I happen to think is cute; she patiently shows up to be the team player; poses for pictures and moves on. I bet there are things your co-workers put up with just because you think it’s cute or critical. Are you letting them put on that pink rain jacket once in a while?
Animals teach us humility, patience and appreciation. Maybe it’s time we apply those lessons to the human race.
What has your pet taught you?