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Harness the power of the pack

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

On Dog Whisperer, a cable television show hosted by Cesar Millan, the canine expert helps dog owners handle their unruly pets. Viewers marvel at how Millan’s techniques turn difficult dogs into calm, compliant, lovable animals.

One of Millan’s favorite phrases is “the power of the pack.” Faced with a stubborn, ill-mannered dog, he will not try to train it on his own or beat it into submission. Instead, he removes the underperformer from its environment and puts it in his corral where dozens of well-behaved dogs coexist peacefully.

In other words, he relies on the power of the pack to whip the malcontent into shape.

And it works. As the happy dogs exert peer pressure on the petulant pooch, a transformation slowly occurs and the poor performer adopts a better attitude.

Learn from Millan’s example and use the power of the pack to elevate the performance of your laggards. While you probably can’t transfer them to another department filled with contented winners, you can ask a cadre of your best people to coach the lowly employee to improve.

In lieu of formal coaching, place the individual on a project team filled with your stars. All these hard-charging, enthusiastic doers may positively influence the grumbling, unhappy loner.

Another lesson from Millan that applies to managers is to raise everyone’s accountability. Just as a bad dog rules the roost in some households, a negative employee can exert disproportionate influence over a workgroup.

Don’t let a malcontent set the tone for your work environment. Instead of reacting to this person’s antics, hold everyone accountable for achieving highly visible, easy-to-understand metrics.

Update the numbers on a daily and weekly basis using centrally located bulletin boards or your organization’s intranet. Offer group rewards to the work teams that produce the best results.

When you measure output simply and visibly, the numbers speak for themselves. Peer pressure has a way of turning a noncompliant worker into a steady contributor. The power of the pack can lead to group support, training and encouragement.

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