Which would you rather have working for you – a dog or a cat?
To see how these concepts played out in our project for this client, please visit Improving Operations Efficiency and Consistency by Standardizing Key Processes.
Which would you rather hire – a dog or a cat? How I view each animal's qualities:
Dogs are obedient, loyal, friendly creatures, who like nothing more than to be around you and to please you.
Cats are quiet, free-spirited, and independent animals, who do their own thing until they need something from you.
As I noted when reflecting upon my firm's 20th anniversary, I prefer to hire cats. This is true for all my staff, and especially the consultants. As I wrote then – "People come to the firm because they want some place where they can virtually be their own boss, work flexible schedules, solve interesting problems, be incredibly creative, and deal with great clients and colleagues. They do not fit a predefined mold – they chafe at others' rules, pushing back if they don't like something."
Most employers I know also want to hire cats – people who take initiative and get things done, circling back only when a task is complete or additional guidance is needed.
How can you bring cats together and get them all on the same page? How do you organize a group where individual members are used to being left alone? It's very difficult, as reflected in the saying, "That's as hard as herding cats!" (A classic commercial captures this difficulty in a humorous way!)
This month's case study is about a client – a property management company with multiple properties – who hired cats to run the day-to-day operations. The cats typically performed quite well, producing very good business results. The business owner presumed all the company's properties were doing things the same way, and that documenting the procedures would be a straightforward task. At the first meeting, however, it quickly became apparent the staff at each property were doing things differently and, in some cases, even had different terms for the same tasks.
Thus, the owner and our team became cat herders! Ultimately, we were successful, because we were patient with the cats and worked to gain consensus on procedures, rather than dictate how things were to be done. Why take this approach? Because, even though I will only have dogs as pets, cats make better staff and need to be coaxed rather than coerced.
Todd L. Herman