As the weather warms up, Louie and I have been relishing the times we can take long walks. But I’ve noticed lately I no longer enjoy my walks with my rescue pup, Louie. It saddens me to share that publicly, but it is the truth—a truth I had to take time to explore and understand.
I love to walk because I enjoy the outdoors and because it’s an excellent way for me to exercise. I also enjoy seeing my neighbors and getting a chance to catch up with them.
But apparently, Louie takes walks for a different reason.
He likes to sniff everything in sight. He also has an incessant need to mark as many things as he can. He will smell a single blade of grass for eternity, if allowed to. It’s his way of knowing which dogs have been by that day, and it’s his way of “catching up with the neighbors.”
One day, I was particularly frustrated with him while he was smelling and digging. I wanted to walk fast that day, and while he sniffed a blade of grass for the fifteenth time, I gave him a tug on his collar. He looked at me with those big brown eyes as if to ask whether he’d done something wrong. I realized he had no clue why I was actually out here walking, nor did he care.
Obviously, we’re miscommunicating.
Louie’s understanding of the goal is totally different from mine. I’m out walking to get fresh air and record my 10,000 steps. He’s out to garner as many smells as he can and to let other dogs know he’s been there.
Then it dawned on me. Our frustration with each other is similar to what I would feel if a friend says to me, “Danise, let’s spend the afternoon reading.” Great! Crackling wood is ablaze in the fireplace, hot tea is on the coffee table, a warm afghan covers my toes, and a fabulous book is in my hands. I start reading one of my favorite books, eagerly anticipating a cliffhanger end-of-chapter. I turn the page, and just like that—the book is swiftly snatched out of my hand. My friend grabs my book and starts flipping through the pages, saying, “Come on, you’ve got to get further along than this.” The friend hands the book back to me, and I start reading the page where the book has landed. Luckily, I pick up the story and give free rein to my imagination and BAM! My friend again grabs the book from my hand, flips the pages, and asks, “What’s taking you so long?”
How frustrating this would be if it actually took place.
Yet, that is precisely what I do to Louie. We have a goal or objective, which is to walk. He gets excited when I say, “Let’s go for a walk, buddy.” But the similarity ends as soon as we walk out the door. He knows we’re going for a walk, and to him, that means taking his time to smell things. I’m going for a walk to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise—two different opinions of how to reach the same goal.
Is that how it is with your team? They understand the goal, but they have a different approach to achieving that goal than you do. This happens more often than we think, and we often blame others for not achieving our goals.
A few simple steps can alleviate this frustration.
- Clearly communicate the overarching objective.
- Follow The Ken Blanchard Companies STRAM; A New Twist on SMART Goals.
- Help your team set their own goals within the framework of your organization and division and give them ownership.
- Hold them accountable to achieve those goals.
- Celebrate the wins.
To make sure Louie and I are on the same page, I’ve learned if I want to achieve my goals of walking fast and getting in my steps, I need to walk him on a short leash and use the commands “heel” and “sit.” But if I want to enjoy being outdoors with my pup, I walk him on a longer leash and let him take his time.
Sniff away, my little buddy. The world is yours!