THE MANAGEMENT ART OF MUCKING OUT HORSE STABLES

“Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.”
Dale Carnegie (1888-1955), American author, trainer and lecturer.

As we are the enthusiastic owners of two horses, I regularly try to increase my knowledge about their care and feeding. I recently came across this vey old beginner’s guide to horse care, and couldn’t help but notice that it was still very relevant, and that with the changing of just a few words here and there, these four paragraphs actually had some good advice, and horse sense, along the lines of what I would say to managers about the care and feeding of their people. (See also “The management art of stacking firewood” posted March 18, 2013).

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Original version on horses

“Having horses is a big responsibility. By nature, these animals are easy to be with, and are fit to be together with their herd in open spaces. To care for them, you have to keep that in mind, and work your way towards helping them achieve a good disposition. You have to take the time and effort to give them the necessary activities that they require, as they can become discontented if they are not handled in a proper manner. Make sure that there are no hazards which can hurt them, such as holes and waste. You should also spend time and effort in training your horses well so that they can understand what you want from them. and to allow them to work better with you.

To avoid waste and other hazards, build a fence around their pasture. This ensures that your horses are in a safe and secure area. If a horse escapes, it might encounter problems such as injury or getting lost. Make sure that the fence you use is strong enough to secure your pasture, but not so hard that it may cause injury to your horses.

Aside from a secure and well-built fence, your horses should also have enough protection from the harsh environment. A tree grove will provide nice shade for when it is too hot, but for winds and rain, it is best if you have a three-sided enclosure which your horses can retreat into. Study the direction of the wind well, so that the back part will be able to protect your horses from coming winds.

Make sure that you feed your horse properly. They need a lot of water daily, so always see to it that they have access to drinking water all the time. And with the right diet and nutrients provided for them, your horses will have a good disposition and you will be able to enjoy their company much better. Caring for horses is a full time job, so be sure to learn as much as you can about them and how to look after them.”

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My version on management

Being a manager is a big responsibility. By nature people are easy to be with, and can work well together in their team, even if placed in an open-plan environment, as long as it has been built for people rather than being just in rows of mind-numbing cubicles. To care for them, you have to keep “humanity” in mind, and work towards helping them to achieve their life goals as well as their work goals, and work your way towards helping them achieve a good disposition. As their manager you have to take the time and effort to give them the necessary goals and motivation that they require, as they can become discontented if they are not handled in a proper manner. Make sure that you remove the barriers to their success, such as company political landmines and the sort of “holes and waste” that can come from all sides and that can hurt them. You should also spend time and effort in training your people well so that they can understand what you want from them. and to allow them to work better with you.

To protect them from external assault, you should build an environment that protects them enough to do their job well, but not so strong that they cannot wander out when they feel the need to find out what is going on around them. Your role as their manager is to ensure that they do not get “injured or lost”, and that they understand what it is that they find out in the wide expanse of the corporate wilds, and how it can affect them. The fence just needs to be strong enough to protect them from outside threats and time-wasters, but with lots of visible exits.

Aside from a secure and well-built fence, your team should also have enough protection from the harsh environment that can arise from elements like changes in corporate direction, tough economic environments, squeezed budgets, hiring freezes and even company downsizing, It is easy to shelter your people in good times, but a good manager will work to protect his team under the harshest of conditions. You need to be able to study the direction of possible ill winds, and plan ahead to ensure that your team will be well protected from all sides.

Make sure that you feed your people properly with everything that they may need to do their jobs well and to do them with energy, commitment and passion. They will need access to resources and information daily, so make sure that they have what they need all the time. And with the right tools and knowledge provided for them, your people will have a good disposition, and you will be able to enjoy their company much better. Caring for people is a full time job, so be sure to learn as much as you can about them and how to look after them.

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They say that a horse gallops with its lungs, perseveres with its heart, and wins with its character … so do people.

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