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Leadership and Staffing

5 Reasons Why You Should Treat Your Employees Like Dogs

Why would it be in your best interest to treat your employees like dogs? To dog enthusiasts, it might be obvious. 

Lab Manager

Photo Source: iStockThat's right, you should be treating your employees like dogs. If you aren’t, you are missing out on some great leadership opportunities for yourself and you are holding back your employees from growing.

My wife and I recently got a dog and I immediately saw parallels between puppy training and growing employees. Below, the top 5 reasons why you should treat your employees like dogs.

1. Reward and Punishment- Very simply, you get much more bang for your buck in rewarding correct actions than you do from punishing incorrect actions. Rewarding can be as simple as saying “well done,” you don’t need to be handing out $50 gift certificates everyday. The trap that people stumble into is that everyone makes tons of mistakes and it seems natural to point out the mistakes. Constantly.

Puppies will work very hard for praise and treats. They will sit still for 30 minutes and just stare if you have a treat in your hand and ask them to stay. Yelling at them doesn’t have this lasting effect. If she tries to eat something off of the table and we yell at her, 5 seconds later she will try to eat off of the table again.

2. Reward for the Right Actions – Make sure that the rewards that you give your employees are in line with your vision. If your vision is to have top notch customer service, don’t give out bonuses based on sales – give them out based on customer service!

When Returning home from work, I have to be careful to only praise the puppy when she is calm and not jumping around like crazy. By doing this she connects people coming in the house with being calm.

3. Don’t Punish for Failing Desired Actions – If you want innovative employees, don’t punish them when their ideas don’t pan out. Instead of yelling, have an after action review with a group and talk about what can be improved next time. Most of all, be sure to praise them for their innovative thinking.

Never yell at your dog for going to the bathroom in the house. Most likely she’s already forgotten that she did it. Even if you catch her in the act, all it does is make her scared to poop in front of you and actually makes it more likely she’ll go hide somewhere in the house to go to the bathroom next time. You are better off praising them when they do it right.

4. Be Consistent – Employees count on you to treat them fairly and to provide them support. Consistent leaders create environments where employees are empowered and confident.

Puppies don’t understand “sometimes.” Either they are allowed up on the furniture or not; its either OK to jump on everyone or no one. You have to decide what is acceptable and be consistent in what you ask for.

5. Training investment – It’s easy to forget to train your new employees, as the reason you hired them in the first place is that the current workload is too high! But you have to make the time to start training as soon as new employees come on board or you are either going to end up playing cleanup or finding that you have to micromanage them to get results.

The best time to start training your puppy is right away. The sooner you teach your puppy how you want them to act, they sooner you don’t need to watch over their every move.