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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Apparently your cat hates you…and your employees might, too

You may have seen it online or in the news lately – there’s a study that claims your cat hates you, or at the very least, doesn’t really care if you’re there or not.

My first thought upon reading the article…you needed a study to learn this?  Seriously, just own a cat.  [Full disclosure: I’m a dog person.  But cats have been in my life from time to time.  Hence the dog. :)] The level of disdain even the most “loving” cats have for their owners is remarkable.  Awe-inspiring, even.

Shortly after that, I thought how similar this behavior can be to employees.  I’m inclined to believe that employees also have an “anxious avoidant” attachment style – they really don’t care if their leader is present or not present.  Not in a positive way, anyway.  Sure, employees may care to avoid an abusive or incompetent leader.  But just like a cat who snubs the owner who feeds them and gives them a loving home, employees may turn their nose up at a leader who cares about his/her employees.

grumpy_cat

If you don’t know Grumpy Cat, you are missing out!!

Leaders, try not to take it personally.  There are a number of factors that play into this dynamic:

  • Employees are hard-wired to hate “The Man”: Well, maybe not hate.  Perhaps “intense distrust” is a better term.  By and large, authority figures have it rough in the workplace.  Ask any popular employee who was promoted and then spurned as a pariah – it can be tough to be the king.
  • Leaders kinda feel the same way about their employees: Just like employees are hard-wired to hate “The Man”, there are a number of leaders who look at the privilege of leading with a sort of resignation.  They know it’s important, it’s just….tiring sometimes.
  • Leaders struggle with boundaries: There are many leaders out there who just don’t get the balance between BFF and hard ass.  This can lead to credibility issues with the team that cause employees to wish “the man” wasn’t around.
  • Most employees don’t really need a manager: Of course, teams need a manager.  They need someone to help run interference, be their champion, set the vision, etc.  But on a day-to-day basis, not so much.  Think I’m wrong?  Next time your manager is out of the office, take note of how much work you get done.

 

So what do you do to combat this indifference?  We might be able to learn a lot from cat owners:

  • Don’t try too hard: Most cat owners know that when the cat wants to interact with you, he/she will do so.  Create an environment that is conducive to interaction, exercise some patience, and see what happens.
  • Catnip works: In this case, catnip can be rewards and recognition.  Make your employees’ interactions with you positive and you may see them more often.  Figure out what motivates your employees, help them achieve that, and you should see an improvement in your relationships.
  • Know what baggage they bring to the table: As anyone who has ever adopted a shelter cat knows, some of these guys come with serious issues.  Sometimes employees do, too.  Maybe they had a crappy manager 3 jobs ago and you’re paying the price.  Patience, positive reinforcement, and a good dialogue can help overcome that.
  • Some people just aren’t cat people: If it really bothers you that your employees don’t like you, or don’t think you’re cool, or don’t want to hang out with you…maybe you aren’t the leading kind.  Re-examine your motives for getting into a leadership position in the first place – if they are still pure and you just need an attitude adjustment, do it!  If not, that’s okay, too.  Just don’t subject your employees to a non-leadership ready leader.

Do you have any advice for the leader whose employees are a little too cat-like in their attachment?  Share in the comments below!

I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.
– Neil Gaiman

 

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You have to use your MIND (stay open to learning)

At a recent event in Cincinnati (shout out, DisruptHR!), a group of us went out to dinner and, as often happens at these types of gatherings, the conversation ranged all over the place – from discussing the state of local businesses to arguing whether or not I was morally obligated to share any of my dinner.  (The answer was no.)

In general, I didn’t really have a stake in any of the conversations going on (other than the dinner sharing), but suddenly I found myself stepping on a rather large soap box and had to be coaxed down…and it was all about whether or not kids should learn cursive in schools.

Surely you’ve read about it – cursive has been removed from the Common Core because of computers and all that cool tech stuff.  What a waste of time!  After all, these kids are in third grade…there is so much more that they should be learning.  Like how to eat paste.  Why would we possibly want kid to learn something new?

OfficeSpace_038Pyxurz

And there’s the crux of my soapbox.  Never mind that there is research that indicates cursive supports brain development.  What bothers me is that there are people out there who are PROUD that they have encouraged 2nd and 3rd graders to reject learning something.

Okay, fine…hardly any of us writes anymore, let alone write in cursive.  My cursive has been a hybrid of print and cursive for years.  But think about the process of learning cursive – it requires discipline, perseverance, patience, even a little artistic flair.  Are any of those things that we wouldn’t want kids to learn?

So…what does this have to do with leadership?  I think too many people in the business world are guilty of the equivalent of refusing to learn cursive because they think they don’t need it.  Development?  Bah!  I know everything you could possibly teach me!  I don’t need that – it’s a waste of time!

Learning is a lifelong practice…with emphasis on the word practice.  Your brain is begging you to keep creating new neural pathways to keep it young.  By being open to learning, you keep your brain primed to take in and process new information.  You shut that down, what good are you to your business?

Here are a few thoughts on how to keep yourself open to learning:

  • Avoid the urge to dismiss: Sometimes new things sound stupid.  And useless.  And a waste of time.  Find out if that’s true before you dismiss it entirely.
  • Embrace the challenge: Sometimes new things sound hard, so we want to avoid them by saying they’re stupid.  See the benefit in learning something new.
  • Find the nugget: Sometimes new things are kind of useless.  I bet you can find something in there you can use.  Maybe it’s a way to reframe your attitude.  Maybe it’s the process you underwent to learn it.  Maybe it’s simply the fact that you kept your mind open.

Always, always, ALWAYS be open to learning new things.  It’s how you stay relevant…and it’s how the world becomes a better place.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.
– Mahatma Gandhi

 
 

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