The value of a routine depends on who you are — but also what you do

picture of Grace on blanket

Whenever we give Grace a marrow bone, she knows the routine: she has to chew it while on a blanket, whether indoors or outside!

I’ve heard that dogs can’t tell time. Yet, I know that Grace is fully aware of patterns in our day. You could set the clock by when she asks for her dinner. And when we turn off the TV at night, she immediately jumps from her bed and waits by the door until I get there for our walk. Coming in from outside, she will then head directly upstairs to her crate, never deviating or diverting from her routine. I think the routines are comforting for her. She knows what to do, what is expected of her, and there are no surprises to frighten or worry her.

Like Grace, some employees love a routine and they flourish in an environment that has consistency and constancy. They like knowing what they need to do and welcome the guidance and direction. Others would consider that setting boring and limiting, preferring to have variety and are more likely to thrive when things are always changing. They like to face new situations and enjoy the challenge of constant problem-solving.

There is not a right or wrong approach here. But it needs to match the job and the culture of the organization.

When we have individuals who are not in a setting that best suits their personality, it creates stress. Because Grace is so cautious around new people, she would be a nervous wreck if her day was spent in a place where different people were constantly flowing in and out. Think about the environment your employees are in. Does the normal ebb and flow of the day suit their style? Is there a co-worker who stays focused on their task and therefore becomes frustrated with interruptions? Or perhaps there is someone else who welcomes disruptions and doesn’t want to be boxed into a rigid schedule? What things can you to ensure the environment matches their style?

Lucky for me, Grace will let me know if I missed her meal time. It’s a nice reminder to me when I’ve forgotten her routine.

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  1. nonlocal MD on March 9, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I just discovered your blog from your comment on Paul’s post about governance in Israel. Being a dog owner myself, I think your insights are absolutely on target on both dogs and people! Great blog!

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