He’s a mini-Australian shepherd puppy. Adorable, right? Well, don’t be fooled. He only looks this way when it suits his diabolical purposes – which is just about all the time.
Reggie, who is a recent addition to our household, can be downright Machiavellian when he comes to using his inherent cuteness to get his way and get away with the reign of terror he inflicts with needle-sharp teeth. Pant legs with holes. Running shoes with torn insoles. His insistent belief that 4 a.m. is a great time to get up and chew something else.
Anyway, that’s why my wife and I recently came to be sitting with 20 or so other exasperated, hollow-eyed pet owners who were also wondering what the heck they got themselves into with their puppies. We were at orientation for a training course, and our instructor (who seriously needs to have her own Animal Planet show) was explaining the hard reality to us about our pets’ misdeeds.
Our puppies weren’t the problem. We were.
She went on to explain that our communication skills were the primary source of our puppy troubles. Or more accurately, our lack of communication skills. Yes, some dogs are willfully disobedient. But more often than not, our Fidos run amok simply because they don’t understand what we want from them. That’s because we aren’t communicating with them in a clear, consistent, and constant manner. The messages get muddled. The puppies end up confused and just as frustrated as their humans.
Dogs, she added, want to know three things:
- Who’s in charge?
- What are the rules?
- How do I fit in?
That’s when I had an epiphany. And it’s why there really is a point to me writing about Reggie beyond an excuse to post click-bait puppy photos. What do any of us want to know in our work lives? Hint: It’s the answers to those same, three questions! In fact, that’s the foundation to what has become all the rage in business today – creating a great employee experience.
(Stay with me on this, dear reader. Candidly, I’m still fleshing out this idea before I’m ready to submit my proposal to the Ted Talk committee for their review. Working title: “How to Unleash Employee Communication.”)
I don’t want to take this analogy too far. The workplace is not a kennel. People are not canines. But on the other hand, we do all like perks. (Treats.) We enjoy praise. (Who’s a good boy!) And we want to feel like we’re part of a team. (The pack.)
It’s also not rocket science. Good things happen and the world is a better place when we communicate. It’s certainly true in our personal lives.
It’s also no different at work.
Employees just want to know what the heck is going on at their organization. They want to know if their efforts are helping the company win the day. Most of all, they want to see that they’re recognized and valued. All of that creates trust, loyalty, and more engaged people.
But that doesn’t happen without clear, consistent, constant communication. When it’s lacking? Hopefully, your employees refrain from soiling the carpet in an out-of-the-way conference room. But in this white-hot job market, they absolutely can leave for another company that does show them that kind of respect and TLC.
That’s why communication matters in the workplace. It’s also why forward-thinking companies are doing everything possible to figure out better ways to reach their employees, wherever they are and on a regular basis, with what they need to do their jobs better – and feel a closer connection to the company.
So, back to Reggie. Yes, I have overstated (a little) the destruction he causes. He’s just a typical puppy who’s learning his place in the world. And we’re learning to be better humans for him.
But just so you know, in the time that it’s taken me to write this, one of my running shoes has gone missing again.
Gartner recently announced the creation of a new market category of technology solutions to help companies better engage with their employees. You can also learn more about Employee Communications Applications here. Oh, and if you want to follow Reggie’s adventures, he has his own Instagram account at #everydayisreggie. Don’t ask me how he signed up for that. It’s a mystery.