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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Why hitching and hobbling only works on horses

Whilst swimming up and down the pool doing my customary lengths early this morning, I was reflecting on what it does for me. I find myself counting the strokes and then adding them up as I do each length. I don't mean to do it - it just happens that way. But it really works for me because I often have great ideas whilst I am swimming. (I need a waterproof notebook!)

I think that because I am counting, my left brain is occupied and behaving itself for a change and so my right brain wakes up and comes out to play. For example, this morning, I worked out exactly how I was going to approach a piece of work that I have been prevaricating about and putting off for a while. I wasn't even thinking about it at the time - the thought just arrived as if from nowhere. I love that!

I was also reflecting on the hitching and hobbling of horses from yesterday's Blog, and wondering why that particular metaphor had appeared for me in relation to people in organisations.

Hitching - an effective, but temporary knot that can be undone in one movement
Hobbling - tying in such a way that the head can't be raised.

Both are pretty useful for cowboys (and girls) to ensure that your horse is still there when returning from the saloon or waking up from a siesta. Horses don't tend to move very far, or very fast, when hitched to a post or hobbled so that their heads stay down.

In terms of employee engagement, I wonder how many of us are unknowingly relying on a version of these methods to retain good people? And how many will remain when the economy eventually wakes up from its siesta?

It occurs to me that now is a good time to work actively on employee engagement and make sure that leaders and managers in your business are not relying on hobbling and hitching your people - it only works on horses!

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