Do You Want to Become a Better Manager? Try Managing a Cat 2

I was never a big fan of cats when I was 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. They want everything on their terms.

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 had more to do with the cat owner’s hygiene practices and less to do with the cat. My older brother has a cat, but unless you saw the cat running around – you’d never know it. My brother is fanatical about cleanliness. (Some people – me included – might suggest that he is downright anal about it). He cleans his cat’s litter tray at least 3 times a day and sprinkles the kitty litter with deodorizer to ward off any offensive odors.

Have you ever met someone for the very first time and didn’t like them? For whatever reason, you just didn’t like them? You couldn’t put your finger on exactly why – you just didn’t like them. But after spending some time with them – and getting to know them better – did you change your mind? That’s like me and cats. My first impression about cats changed after baby sitting my ex-wife’s cat – Cali (As in calico – the coat of many colours) I now think Cats are kinda cool. I discovered that cats can be managed – you just need to manage them differently. If you think about it, the same can be said about managing people. One management style does not fit all. Managers will be far more successful managing others if they modify their management style to be more in-tune with the person (or in my case – the cat) they are working with. They will be far more receptive if you manage them in a style that they like.

Here are my top five tips for managing cats. Feel free to substitute cats for people when and where you see fit.

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’s something critical or urgent,try backing 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 forward. Have your “Teachable Moment” and don’t keep punishing them for past transgressions. There is no future in the past; if you get my drift. They are ok – it’s what they did that wasn’t. Don’t try to change them – change what they did.

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. Never, ever lower your standards. Standards should never be open for debate. How you get there – can be. If they know that you are going to call them on it – each and every time they allow the standard to slip – they will toe the line. Remember you teach people how to treat you. If they figure you’ll let them get away with a less than stellar performance – they will continue to give you a less than stellar performance.

Follow-Up: Cat’s do what you inspect not what you expect. Check in on them once in a while to see what they are up to. You need to monitor their performance. If left alone for too long you may discover that they have wandered off course. Managing is about finding a balance between over and under managing. Everyone likes to be managed a certain way. Find that way and manage them accordingly. Some need more direction and guidance than others.

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

So the next time you have an opportunity to baby sit a cat – try these five tips and see if it goes a little easier and less frustrating for you. 🙂 Cheers, (Oh – by the way. I now own two cats – Minnie and my ex-wife’s cat Cali)

Why Women Will Rule the Economy of the Future – Jordan Weissmann 1

“It may be the Cock that crows, but make no mistake that it’s the Hen who decides when and where to lay the egg” – Margaret Thatcher.  The numbers continue to tell the story. According to research conducted by The Centre for Women’s Business – more than 10.1 Million firms are owned by women – employing more than 13 Million people. Women are starting more small businesses than men and those businesses are more likely to still be in business five years after start-up. (These are American stats but the numbers indicate that women are outpacing men in Canada as well)

Gentlemen if that doesn’t get your attention than this article written by Jordan Weissmann  and published in The Atlantic should. If the past is an indicator of the future than women will eventually outpace men in earning potential. It has long been argued that those who stay in school and graduate eventually earn more.  Men are still being paid more than their female counter parts for doing the same job – but the number of female graduates vs. male graduates suggests that will soon change.

Women are staying in school longer and are producing more graduates than men.   Low paying – manual labour type jobs are disappearing for a number of reasons. Education is now king. Those that have it – will be in a better position to fill the higher paying jobs.   Mary Matalin, former counselor to President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney was quoted  as saying – “Women around the World are rewriting history at a ferocious pace with or without mans permission”.  Yes Bob – “The times they are a changing”. Enjoy the read – Cheers, 🙂

Why Women Will Rule the Economy of the Future—in 1 Graph – The Atlantic.

Managers vs. Leaders – The Debate Continues 1

Do we manage more than we lead or lead more than we manage? Is there really that much a of a difference between the two to even bother trying to justify one over the other? A half-century ago Peter F. Drucker – who is considered to be the most influential management thinkers of all time – brought the practice of management to the forefront; and other notables have been trying to “one-up” him ever since. The debate will continue long after you’ve read this posting.

I’ve spent 40+ years managing and leading people, and based on my experiences I believe the two: managers and leaders, have more in common with one another – than not. They are  mutually inclusive of one another – not mutually exclusive of one another. The lines between the two are definitely blurred – if not disappearing all together.

“Leadership cannot simply delegate management; instead of distinguishing managers from leaders, we should be seeing managers as leaders, and leadership as management practiced well.” – Henry Mintzberg

The role of Manager and Leader is situationally based. You must insure that the day-to-day tasks that need to get done to make the organization work are being done (that’s managing). But you also need to spend some of your time thinking about where the organization needs to go to stay competitive and to maintain or grow your market share (that’s leading). To be successful, Managers and Leaders need to be able to communicate, educate and delegate effectively if they are going to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization, and / or implement the changes necessary to take the organization to where it needs to go. And … in order to do either of those jobs well, they need a variety of skills.

Both Managers and Leaders need to be able to:

  • Problem solve and resolve conflict
  • Build collaborative teams
  • Teach and mentor
  • Communicate and listen
  • Plan and forward think
  • Be patient, empathetic, flexible and open-minded.

Henry Mintzberg is right. Forget about being a leader – practice managing well and people will want to follow you. You may have been given the title of manager, or people may refer to you as their leader, but if no one is buying into what you are saying or choosing to follow you – then it really doesn’t matter what title you have. – Cheers, 🙂

There’s Smart – And Then There’s Smart Enough

“You don’t have to know everything – You just need to know where to go and look it up” – I love that quote by Albert Einstein. Those are great words to live by – especially for first time managers, team leaders and supervisors. I wish I would have come across that quote earlier on in my management career. It would have saved me from myself on more than one occasion. What I lacked in competence in those early days I sure made up for in self-confidence. I suffered from a chronic case of  “foot-in-mouth” disease. I figured if I looked like a manager, and talked liked a manager, people would think I was a manager. I was always afraid that someone was going to find out that perhaps I wasn’t as qualified to be a manager as they thought I was.

When I was first promoted to a management position I thought that being a good manager meant that I had to have all the answers. I thought that being a good manager meant that I had to be an  expert at doing everything. After all – isn’t that what good managers do? Wasn’t that why I was promoted to manager in the first place? Thank goodness it didn’t take me too long to realize that – that was the farthest thing from the truth. The fact of the matter is – You don’t have to be the smarted person in the room to be the most successful manager in the room. For most careers – intelligence is highly over-rated. You only need to be smart enough.

You won’t always make the right decisions purely based on what you know – unless you know for certain – that you have all the facts. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve made a decision before I had all the facts and then ended up saying to myself, “Well if I had known that – there’s no way I would have done this”. Hindsight is always 20/20. Successful managers understand that managing is a team sport and they don’t have to take the lead all the time for the team to be successful. Successful managers understand when it’s time to lead and when it’s time to follow. Geese figured that out a long time ago. When the geese fly in formation, the leader does not remain the same. In the course of flight, several in the flock will take turns moving to the front of the formation. As the leader tires, it falls back and takes its place with the other followers, while a new leader emerges at the front of the V.

Be a sponge. Learn all you can from the people around you. Good managers know what they know. And more importantly – they know what they don’t know and they’re not afraid to admit it. Don’t play a game of smoke-n-mirrors. Don’t make up the answers as you go along. You don’t have to have all the answers – but you do have to know who to go to find out. “A specialist is someone who does everything else worse” – Ruggiero Ricci