My partner has threatened to make me a hat that says “Don’t ask me about my horse”. Do not do this unless you are prepared to spend an afternoon discussing him, watching the slide and movie presentation, be invited out to ride him. I promise that your eyes will glaze over and your hearing will be forever altered. There is no subject more important to me than my horse. There is no quicker route to boredom on your part.
In recognizing this, I feel it important to include a warning whenever my horse will be used in an analogy, simile or metaphor. One like this:
Warning: Horse Analogy Below
You’ve been warned, buckaroo.
My horse has taught me more about managing human beings than all of the classes, hands-on training and books I have ever experienced. Horses have been called the best teachers. For me, that is an absolute truth.
Horses resist change. Take one out of a field, put it into a pen and tell it to move and the answer you get is, “Huh?” After that, you get, “No way.” With patience and a little work, the horse will eventually recognize that the easiest course is to move in the direction you want him to move. Consistent instructions will give you the same exact results every single time.
Nearly all horses will react in exactly the same way if treated the same. Their language is universal and simple. Put pressure on a spot, wait for the horse to try everything but the action that you desire, keep the pressure there and when the horse does the right thing, immediately release the pressure. After a time, it takes very little pressure to get the horse to do what you want. The horse has learned something new!
Employees resist change. Try suggesting a way to improve performance and you get a blank stare. Tie it to some sort of pressure and eventually you get cooperation. Do it long enough and you would think that the employee might just eventually start carrying out the new process on his own.
The trouble is, employees are not horses. How I wish they were sometimes. The difference is in the size of our respective frontal lobes, the part of our brains that allow us to joke, love, desire and rebel. Horses are pretty much unable to do any of that. Humans do it all. And if you want a human to keep doing his or her job properly, you have to find a way to make them want to do it. They won’t just carry out their duties because we taught them.
The art of management is not in the teaching of a method or the successful increase in productivity. The art of management relates to getting staff members to want to do things the productive way. Anything less than want creates a possibility that things will change back to the way that they were before.
Because we all resist change.