What we can learn from Cats………

I stood on my cat this morning. Not as a hobby or for fun, you understand, it wasn’t on my To Do list (…brush teeth, make toast, stand on cat…), but because my cat had for some feline reason decided to sleep on the pedestal mat in my bathroom, for the first time ever, and it is dark when I get up. It was an interesting experience for both of us………..there was an instant in which we both held our breath and our silence before the joint yelling and the tearing sounds (that would have been my flesh being scythed out of the way so that the cat could leave the bathroom) woke the people sleeping in the country adjacent to ours.

Cats have much to teach us, especially about managing. Have you tried to manage a cat? Managing dogs, piece of cake. You can make entire teams of dogs pull sleds and beg for food. You can’t make a cat walk in a straight line if it chooses not to. One of my cats was in serious need of a vet – for his own good, mind you – a few years ago. To get him there we had to wrap him in a towel like a Mummy -well, two towels as he soon slashed his way partially through the fabric. The vet was a large, confident and cheerful soul with hands like shovels and I almost felt sorry for him when he told us it would be ok and just to let Thomas out of the towels, he would handle him – despite our protests.  Thomas opened a wound on the vet from ear to elbow and did a wall of death stunt around the walls of the room for at least five minutes, ears flat, eyes wide and black, before collapsing, exhausted, as indeed we all were, onto the table with a “whump” as he landed. We moved soon after that………

I have managed some fabulous people, really bright, determined, intuitive and caring people. I have also managed some horrors: lazy, shiftless, unpleasant  and lacking in the basics such as courtesy, insight  and a personality. Some people are, despite all the management skills and techniques in the world, impossible to manage unless it is to manage them out. One of the greatest tricks to learn, as a manager, is to know when you are defeated. Give it your best shot, have a plan, a timescale, aims and objectives, a sunny exterior while you die inside each time this persons fizzog hoves into view, a secret desire to invite this person on a day trip to Calais and push them into the English Channel, and of course a Plan B. Plan B will usually be the pathway to waving this person goodbye, the options having been manfully and womanfully tried, but receding and failing.   It is kinder in the long run – they are clearly in the wrong job (no, it isn’t you) and a menace to the team, the organisation, and your sanity.

Good luck with managing your Horrors. Remember – execution is the last resort, getting the paperwork right is the best option.

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