‘Man’ager’s Best Friend: Sniff Out New Management Skills

 -  10/25/11

Having dogs in the workplace helps reduce employee stress and improve productivity; learning from them improves managers’ leadership abilities and people management skills.

While many talent managers turn to the bevy of books and electronic training tools to do their jobs better, one source of management insight is relatively unheralded: dogs.

That’s right: Certain interactions with our friendly, cuddly rugrats translate to talent management. Golden retrievers, for instance, could potentially help leaders understand how to effectively manage a workforce.

It’s this idea that motivated Robert Vetere, a business management veteran and president of the American Pet Products Association, to write a forthcoming book, From Wags to Riches: How Dogs Teach Us to Succeed in Business & Life. In it, Vetere shares experiences with a number of notable chief executives and other leaders, all of which attest to picking up detailed management characteristics from their dogs.

The book also touches on the idea that having dogs in an office environment is a boost to business. A 2010 article from the Economist concurs — a study highlighted in the article showed that dogs were proficient at acting as social catalyst in the workplace, which made employees more productive.

We spoke with Vetere, who worked with animal behavior experts Marty Becker and Alan Beck for the book, to uncover some of the insights he has gleaned.

What is it about animal behavior that translates well to the characteristics of being a good manager?

Vetere: I’ve always noticed how dogs can read my gestures, my visual clues. They’ve always been very attentive — not so much to what I’m saying, but how I’m acting, how I’m behaving, the signals I’m sending out. It works so well with people the same way. There is a study done that said that people respond to only 7 percent of the actual words out of your mouth — 55 percent are the facial expressions, the body language, the hand gestures and the like.

What are some of the top management qualities people can glean from their relationship with dogs?

Vetere: I think the top management qualities that people can learn from dogs are patience, listening, forgiveness, minimal ego, minimal judgment, teaching you how to read people and how to be more open. Dogs provide a wonderful mirror on how others react to your cues. Just watch how your dog reacts and recognizes.

Article Keywords:   management   coaching   behavior  

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