Posted by TyKiisel in Untagged
About this time last year my Boston Terrier Cosmo passed away. He was, in my humble opinion, the best dog that ever lived. He was a gentle and loving companion who transcended his canine nature and became one of our family. It didn't matter if I had been gone for five minutes or a week, he was always glad to see me and truly exhibited unconditional love for me. As he got older he may have lost a step or two, but he was still willing to jump in the Jeep for ride, sit by my side on the couch, or chase a ball or stick thrown in the back yard.
You might be asking, what made Cosmo the "perfect" companion. And I would have to say, we understood each other. Although he didn't speak English and I didn't speak canine, we were able to effectively communicate. Cosmo taught me a lot about being a successful "accidental" project manager.
From the first few days he joined our family as a tiny "beanie-baby" puppy, throughout all of the 13+ years of his life, I made it a point to communicate clearly, concisely, and consistently with him—and he with me. My instructions were never ambiguous and his reaction to my instructions became consistent and predictable. (I wish I had known Cosmo when my children were small, I probably would have communicated with them in a more consistent and less erratic manner.)
Here are some of the management tips I learned from Cosmo:
- People want to do a good job, they just need to know what a good job is: Cosmo's nature was to please me. He wanted to be a good dog, it was my job to teach him what being a good dog was. The people on project teams aren't much different. Most people want to do a good job. If you are clear up front as to what a good job is, most team members will work to do it. What's more, when it comes time for a review, they will know whether or not their performance has measured up or not—you won't need to tell them.
- Hold people accountable to expectations: If Cosmo ever did something I didn't approve of, all it took was a look from me and he would straighten up. Once project team members know and understand what a good job is, it's important to regularly hold them accountable for their performance. Give them an opportunity to report on what they are doing and how they are meeting expectations. Accountability is not a bad thing. In fact, it's an important part of building effective teams. What's more, people crave ownership and accountability in the workplace.
- Praise publicly and specifically: Cosmo loved hearing that he was a good dog. In fact, he actually seemed to like it when I praised him in front of someone else (however I could be imagining that). Most people like to be recognized for a job well done. That being said, insincere platitudes will fall flat. If you are going to recognize accomplishment, make sure and make it specific and sincere. "Great job Johnson," is not as meaningful as, "Johnson, all the work you did on that Acme project will really help us get their order. Great job."
- All dogs are not Cosmo: I guess it doesn't really matter if it was because they were never taught properly in the beginning (or if they were just bad dogs), some dogs just don't respond the way Cosmo did. As you manage people, you will find that there are team members who just won't respond to this (or any other management approach) and will need to be let go. Just because they are available doesn't make them right for the project team. I don't let just any dog come into my house and sit on my couch with me.
Do you have anything to add to the list?