Does every HR team need a hamster?

TI hamsterCould a new and unexpected opportunity bring happiness to the team and responsibility and personal development for one member of the team?

My children have been on at me to buy them a pet. In the end as every strong and in control parent does, I capitulated.  But rather than feel it was weakness on my part I took the purchase of a pet as a prime development opportunity.  This was not the original intention but it was interesting to see how this development opportunity evolved.

Having given in and said that my children could get a pet I made it their choice. A list of just what was involved was laid down and the consequences of not delivering against these basic requirements was made clear; cleaning of the cage, playing and general looking after, food, water.  If these tasks were not delivered then the pet would be returned to the pet shop.

Now having understood what exactly was involved in the care of a pet just one of my sons decided to take on the responsibility.  The whole family visited the pet shop together but the voice and the power was just with the son who had taken on the new job.  He seemed to get taller and fill more space as he was made the owner of the decision as to which pet was chosen and which accessories.  He took a bit of a leap into the unknown as we all got in the car and he had to hold his pet and be responsible for it. And then rather bizarrely to match his new found voice he began to demonstrate some leadership qualities.

He is given stickers for ensuring the pet tasks all get completed and his brother can earn stars for helping out. He gets a feel of being in charge whilst allocating jobs to his brother. Sadly he took on rather an autocratic style and completely demotivated his brother who ran away. “He’s gone” he wailed much to my amusement.

“Well, you have to make it fun for him and maybe let him do the jobs in his own way” I advised my son. A hard lesson for any of us to heed, even the most experienced of leaders.

Our new hamster has provided hours of fun and amusement for the family and has been a great opportunity for the boys to learn about influence, responsibility, communication, teamwork, leadership and even empathy.  Now I am really glad I succumbed to parental weakness.  Or am I just glad I can post rationalise!

Anyhow, there is a good chance that there is a hamster opportunity for your department offering growth for the individual and happiness for the team. Good examples might be the team social secretary or the FolderMaster in charge of ensuring the Shared drive has a meaningful indexing system.

Are there more roles that could motivate your team in this way and act as an opportunity beyond the day to day?

Take a look – 7 tips for HR to enable transformational change


One thought on “Does every HR team need a hamster?

  1. We had a similar experience with our son, now eight, when he was five. Again a hamster was the pet of choice. I was encouraged by the responsibility he showed and the care and attention he paid to ‘Bert’s’ needs. Bert passed away last summer, as hamsters do. Interestingly our son decided not to have another pet as “it was a lot of hard work, mummy!” So maybe not a manager in the making! He’s taken up guitar instead. I think I am the only one in the house who misses the hamster!

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