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Lady holding dog in office

How dogs can increase our ability to learn

Moving into a managerial role often means that overnight, you are required to completely shift your mindset and develop new skills. Many times, when you are promoted within the same department, you are required to keep some of your old responsibilities while a replacement is found. In other words, new managers can very quickly become overwhelmed with their workload and new responsibilities, resulting in high levels of stress. 

At the same time, new managers are dealing with a lot of new challenges which can leave them feeling vulnerable. Unhelpful thoughts may start appearing in their head, questioning if they’re good enough and fearful that they will ‘be found out’ (otherwise known as imposter syndrome). 

All in all, without relevant support in place, the move to a managerial role for the first time has the potential to have a negative impact on an individual’s wellbeing. This is why I am so passionate about creating an environment that supports new managers in their learning and growth.

How do dogs aid learning within the new manager training programme?

As managers, we often move straight from meeting to meeting and task to task without stopping. This means that when it’s time to focus on our own self development, it can take some time before our minds switch off to external distractions. 

We want to get the most from the time we spend with our new managers and incorporating a dog into the session helps us to do just that. Dogs have been shown to immediately bring people into the present moment, making them more conducive to personal growth and development. 

Dogs also aid the learning experience by lowering levels of stress and anxiety, while boosting the production of mood enhancing hormones including serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. These qualities help to increase our focus and clarity which is vital for learning. 

To be at our best as managers, it starts with better understanding ourselves. Ironically, this can be the hardest part of any training and it requires people to dig deep and face some of their internal challenges head on. Having a dog present during these moments can provide people with an external subject to focus on, making it easier to have open and honest conversations. They also have an uncanny ability to provide moments of lightness and fun, which can help to release any tension people might hold. 

Dogs have also been shown to help people to quickly build rapport and trust, allowing us to have more meaningful conversations aiding effective learning. 

Curious to know more? Our Intentional Manager Programme is our bespoke mentorship course for new managers. Find out more here.

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