Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Management Lessons from Dog Training


Obligatory business dinners have awkward moments. A go-to topic of conversation? Ask about their family. Better yet (because you don’t know what their family situation might be), ask about their pets! It’s unconditional love without angst and poor study habits or questionable choice of friends you gotta worry about. People go to their “good place” when we talk about pets.

At a particular dinner table surrounded by executives of entities I’m supposed to make nice, despite the entities’ complicated history, I steered the conversation to pets. After several minutes of now more relaxed atmosphere, the pet owner asked me, “Wait, for someone who doesn’t own pets, you know quite a bit.”  I explained that I watch animal training programs from time to time, that it’s a good way to focus back on the basics for human management.

The other executive, who isn’t known to his peers and subordinates as a nurturing manager though a successful and intelligent man, interjected, “Right, like if they do something wrong, you whack them on the nose.” “NO!!!” the rest of the table reacted.

We summarized some of the top level lessons as follows:

  • If you observe something wrong (behavior, error, etc.), point out it out to them as quickly as possible (you can’t pee on the carpet)
  • Show them what the correct solution is (here is where you pee)
  • Make sure to acknowledge them when they replicate the correct solution (good dog, here’s a treat)

Sometimes we make things harder than we need to. It’s not dumbing it down nor are you less respectful of your colleagues to transfer some dog training skills to them. When you strip away the office politics, emotional baggage and treat someone else with the same kind of love you have for your pets, the results are bound to be positive.

Photo: A feral cat in Orvieto, Italy, because I had no photos of dogs


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This entry was posted on October 31, 2015 by in Management and tagged , , , .
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