Cats Can Teach You a Thing or Two About Managing People

I was never a big fan of cats growing up. It wasn’t because I didn’t like them – I just never had much use for them. I mean, what’s the point? They don’t fetch things; they don’t sit on command, roll over or play dead. And most of the time cats don’t come to you when you call them.

The other knock I had on cats was the smell. It’s like fish – I just couldn’t get past the smell. I knew if someone had a cat the moment I walked into their place. I now realize it has more to do with the host’s hygiene practices and less to do with the cat. My older brother has a cat, but unless you saw his cat running around his apartment, you’d never know it. My brother is fanatical about cleanliness (some would suggest that he is downright anal.) He cleans his cat’s tray at least three times a day and sprinkles the kitty litter with deodorizer to ward off any offensive odors.

My opinion about cats all changed after looking after my Ex-Wife’s cat Cali (as in Calico). I now think cats are cool. Cats can be managed – you just need to manage them differently than dogs. If you think about it, the same can be said about managing people. One management style does not fit all. Managers will be more successful managing their staff if they modify their management style to be more in-tune with the person (or in my case cat) they are working with.

Here are my top five tips for managing cats or people:

Be Patient: Cat’s perform better at their own pace. They will eventually do what you want them to do – it just may take longer than you’d like. Unless it is something critical or urgent, back off, take a deep breath, and chill out. Be patient; learn to pick your battles. Sometimes you have to give up control to get control.

Be Forgiving: Cat’s don’t hold a grudge and you shouldn’t either. People make mistakes. And when they do, you need to get over it and move on. Have your “Teachable Moment” but don’t keep punishing them for past transgressions. There is no future in the past; if you get my drift.

Be Consistent: Cat’s can be trained if you apply the “rule” fairly and consistently. Being consistent is the key. Maintain your standards; don’t settle for less than what you want. If they know that you are going to call them on it each and every time they get out of line, they will eventually toll the line. (Re-read patience – you’ll need it in spades)

Follow-Up: Cat’s do what you inspect not what you expect. Check in on them once in a while. You need to monitor their performance. If left up to their own devices for too long, you may discover that they have ventured off course. Managing is about finding a balance between over and under managing. Everyone likes to be managed a certain way. Find that balance.

Allow Playtime: Cat’s need their playtime. It can’t be all work all the time. We all need some time to put our feet up on our desk and do absolutely nothing. We all need some time to de-stress and recharge our batteries. Energized people are more productive and easier to be around.