Is there a parallel between good Dog Training and good Project (people) Management?

1. Dog breeds are different in terms of their natural strengths and weaknesses, and even within a breed, there can be substantial deviations from the norm.

Not ALL Poodles are so intelligent that you have to tell them only a few times and Cocker Spaniels, lovable as they are, generally take longer to do what you ask.

People are the same. Each new team member has his/her own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, motivators, aversions, and triggers, and Managers need to know what’s in that set, IF they want to get the best from them.

Treating all members of the team as Poodles when they might actually be Beagles, is dumb.

2. Dog training is about training the Owner not the dog.

Good dog training focuses on educating the Owner as to how to behave with the dog to generate the desirable dog behaviours.

For example, we are told not to use a hundred words when just ONE would do.

“Rex, that wasn’t smart when you careered off to the other side of the park just then, and didn’t come back when I called you, you little schmuck!” The Owner has to train themselves to use one word and say it often enough that the dog gets it.

Same with people. How often is communication to Project staff succinct AND clear enough so they get it? How often do Managers check back that staff might have misunderstood the message when they don’t “sit, stay or heel”?

3. When someone gets a new puppy, most responsible dog owners will take it to Dog Obedience Training to inculcate desirable behaviours.

Same with people. The Newbies on a project need to be inducted appropriately, and not just on Safety procedures. They need to have a range of task-related information shared with them at the start. What to do, when, where, how, with whom, measures, and expectations- all the things that will help them understand what they need to do to behave as “Good dogs”.

4. Dogs are given rewards usually as a result of having complied with what the Owner wants. Whether the command is “Sit, stay, drop or heel”, all warrant a “Good boy!” or liver treat.

Same with people. When they do well, or bust their arse, or try really hard even without achieving the goal, they deserve a “treat”, aka some kind of positive feedback, such as “Thanks, great job”, or “couldn’t have done it without you!” And they need regular acknowledgement- one Schmacko isn’t enough.

The point of all this is not to suggest that Project Staff should be expected to act like Pavlov’s dogs- to salivate on command.

The point is that to produce better performance, we need to apply some of the same principles which produce happy, well-behaved four-legged animals to Homo Sapiens.

Contact Construction Advisor to start training your pups.

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