Given Out Any Treats Lately?

Photo courtesy of aopsan via

Earlier this week I dropped by the store for a few things and as I was checking out, I hesitated. I had grabbed some cans of cat food and 3 bags of cat treats. This has been a weekly habit for a while and I had to laugh at myself. Our entire family is allergic to cats and somehow we have collected 3 cats over the past few years thanks to the kids. We have acreage so the cats can endlessly roam and explore. They are also spoiled with a cat door into the garage, a soft bed and heat lamp, and of course, canned cat food and treats. Fortunately, they have hearts of gold and keep the critters at bay.

I’m not alone in spoiling our pets and rewarding them with treats. There are more that 70-80 million dogs and 74-90 million pet cats in the United States according to the ASPCA.  That means that 62% of us have at least 1 pet. I’m sure that you know someone (or are one!) that goes a bit overboard on pets by buying them luxury beds, fancy toys, and clothes. According to NBC News this adds up to Americans spending over $60 billion on pets every year. I imagine a large chunk of that is on toys and treats alone.

People have a variety of reasons for spending money on their pets. Rewarding them, showering them with love, training them, or thinking that they are tiny humans. I ‘m a sucker for cat treats because I love the glow in the kitty eyes when I shake the treat bag. Plus, it’s the only way that I can get them to do what I want. Don’t we use similar tactics with our kids or even spouses? We do it because it works.

Pets aren’t so different than people. As a manager, I have enjoyed discovering the gifts in my people and bringing them to the surface. It requires patience and a sincere interest in getting to really know your team. More so, I have been on a journey to see how to reward those around me. Guess what? It doesn’t have to cost a penny. You don’t always need to shell out treats or trinkets with the company logo on them. Most people crave recognition for their work or their skills. They want their gifts to rise to the surface to be utilized and yes, even recognized.

I have a sister that believes her poodle is human – complete with sets of clothing and hair bows to match. When you think about what we spend on rewards for pets it’s astounding. Most of us don’t think enough about how to recognize or reward the people around us. Buying a bag of cat treats is easy, remembering to treat those that we work with, not so much.  Obviously companies shell out billions of dollars a year in rewarding employees however, a large chunk of that expenditure is rewarding years of service, not every day recognition of what are folks doing. What are you doing personally to recognize those around you?

Giving “treats” to those that we have contact with every day is fun, easy, empowering, and yes, inexpensive. If you don’t believe me, think about what you do for your pet every day. A far
flung analogy but it’s true. Think about what you can personally do every day to have an impact on someone that you work with. You don’t need to be a manager to reward, be a person. Let’s get into the habit of treating and rewarding each other.

Ideas on how to recognize those around you

  • How about a good old “thank you” face to face or better yet, in front of everyone else?
  • Drop off an old fashioned thank you card on their desk or mail it to their home
  • Bring in a treat just for a special person
  • Recognize someone on LinkedIn or on an internal social media account
  • Jump in and assist a coworker with a project or task that no one else wants
  • Introduce them to someone that can help them in their career or with their goals. Proudly brag them up
  • Ask a team member to be on a high profile project or team
  • Surprise them with a unique desk gadget
  • Buy them lunch
  • Cover their desk with some scratch off lotto tickets
  • Everyone has a special hobby or passion. Bring them a gift related to their passion
  • Offer more smiles and words of encouragement

Let’s get back to being human. Let’s spend more time and thought thanking others, recognizing coworkers, and offering treats for others. Rewarding doesn’t need to cost anything but your time or attention.  Hey, if you have pets, next time you buy treats for them remember that there are other ways to treat and thank your human friends!

Are You Ready To Be Human?

"Touch has a memory" - John Keats

We have two pet cats that roam our farmland. Very spoiled cats. They get to romp about all day and do what cats do. They follow me around the garden – for attention and treats of course. They are outdoor cats, yet they have a kitty door, heated garage, and canned cat food.  They frolic over the rocks on our pond and roll around in my Catmint flowers. There are plenty of shrubs to nap in and mice to catch. We are a cat allergic family so the outdoors is their home.

This past winter we started seeing a stray cat trailing Leo and Charlie. I quickly guessed that it was a “she”, especially when some kittens popped up this spring under our shed. 4 tiny kittens darted around the yard and scavenged food wherever they could find it – especially from our garage. My kids jumped into action and caught one of the kittens. They put him in our large empty rabbit cage as he hissed and growled away. As tiny as he was, I was hesitant to get near him, let alone touch him.

We steadfastly gave “Jinx” food and kitty treats. Slowly each day the kids tentatively touched his head as he hissed and nipped away. Then they would lightly pet his head as we crooned sweet words at him.  From there we were able pet him without him acting up. We progressed to being able to pet his whole body. The kids held and cuddled him. He played with them and quickly walked up to us wanting attention. Incidentally, he also began yearning for treats and ran to us when he heard the bag crinkle. Our hissing, nipping little kitten had turned into a playful, lovable, attention seeking little guy – all because of human touch.

Our kitten experience really touched me and I’ve continued to think about it. I saw an amazing transformation in this tiny being in a span of a week. All it took was belief that this little fellow could change through the caring use of human touch and a desire to make a difference.

 Guess what? We are quite similar to the little kitten.  Some human care, touch, and attention also bring out our best. We all respond to someone believing in us, giving us attention, and giving us what we need to grow. Who have you helped lately with a little human attention?

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around” – Leo Buscaglia

One of the things that I love about managing people is bringing out their best. People flourish when they feel empowered and know that someone has faith in them. Just a touch of interest, encouragement, and belief in someone is key. Are you ready to get human?

The power of being human to your team

·         Builds commitment to values and goals. People are committed when they have a stake.
·         Teams that are asked for their input and form a road map are engaged.
·         Open communication bubbles up ideas and new technologies. To share is human.
·         Emotional connections build trust and allegiance.
·         People  read non-verbal communication more so than verbal. Sharing human expression builds understanding.
·         Being partners is a relationship. People who are in a human focused relationship are empowered to extend partnerships to those they work with and even customers.
·         The more interest that we take in each other, the less judgmental we become. Team members don’t want to be judged and want the autonomy to grow.
·         Resistance to change is a human trait. It becomes easier when people are connected to it and they don’t resist what they understand.

Just as the human touch and new emotional bond with our feral kitten changed his behavior, you too can change others by simply being human.