May I take a few seconds to introduce my two Siberian Huskies. Boyska and Rogue. Both are rescue dogs and I’ve had Boyska for the last four years and Rogue the past 2 years. They have taught me so much about myself and also a lot about how I work.
I think that dogs are great and my two Siberian Huskies are awesome. It’s proven that dogs lower stress levels, make people happier and bring peace to an environment. I’ve been lucky enough to work in projects where my dog has been a welcome addition to the team and into the office. Here are a few things that I’ve learnt from my dogs about my professional career:
- Work vs. play
Huskies know when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play. They have their game face on and they just run. I’ve had to learn to be the same. There’s a saying that goes: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. For me, it is more about having that downtime and switch off from working to my personal life.
- Stress Management
My dogs know when I’m getting stressed out and they feel it. They’ve got a great skill of coming up and laying on my feet or distracting me when I’m starting to get really stressed. This used to annoy me at first until I realised that I was making the problem worse by just sitting there getting more and more stressed. Now, I take some time out and go back to the issue later.
- Trust your instincts
There is a rule that when you’re going over unsafe/uncertain ground to follow the path of your husky because they know the safest route to pass. It’s their instinct. There have been a few times that I’ve not followed my instincts in my professional career and it’s cost me further down the line. Now, I tend to trust my gut and instinct for the best direction to take. This also means not burying your head in the sand (see Rogue’s example below) when things are going wrong. Face the issue at hand and deal with it.
- Be loyal
Just like my dogs are loyal to me (although they would go to anyone with a piece of ham…) I am loyal to my team. I would walk through fire to work with them and get them what they needed to be a success. This goes the same for any organisation that I’m working with.
- Bond with your pack
Team building is absolutely critical to a Project Manager’s success and being able to bond with your team will ensure not only their happiness but yours as well. Take time to bond with your team and do it on an honest, open level. Some of my best friends have been people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with on projects.
- Dogs give everybody a chance
This certainly applies to my two! Dogs do not come with an inbuilt prejudice. They treat everyone fairly, equally and with respect. I behave the same. It’s important that you remember this
- Try everything once
In the PM world we can sometimes get caught doing the same old routine, following the same old processes. I find that it’s always a good idea to try and see what else/new can be done and what can we do to improve our current working conditions. Look at exploring the new opportunities for how you work, how you lead teams, how you manage that meeting. Try it out! If it doesn’t work, you have at least tried!
- Exercise is needed
I’m one of those crazy people that loves running (that’s why I’ve got two huskies). I use my runs to think about work, problems that I’m having and to also write articles like this! Having a daily escapism of an hour to run and clear my head, raise my heart rate really sets me up for the day and gets me started on the right foot to attack my to-do list with vigour.
- Honesty is the best policy
When my dogs want something, they’ll let me know. Whether it’s howling to go outside or nudging me that it’s time for a break, they’re open and honest about it. I believe that as a Project Manager you need to be too. It’s important that you’re honest with your team as it’ll help build trust and allow them to trust you as who you are.
Whether you’re a dog person or a cat person, an animal can give you a new perspective on things and how you approach situations. What has your pet taught you about being a Project Manager?