Suppose you decide that you want a pet. You know exactly what you want. You want your pet to bark, wag its tail, get excited when it sees you, and fetch sticks when you throw them across the yard.

You have already decided to name your pet Fido.

Since you are also a person of action, you immediately head to a pet store. Before the sun sets today, you are going to bring home a new pet. You have made a decision; it is time to implement the decision.

As you enter the pet store, the owner greets you and you quickly let her know that you want a barking, tail-wagging, stick-fetching pet. The owner seems hesitant.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t be interested in a fluffy, quiet, meowing pet that would fetch a ball of yarn?” she asks.

“Absolutely not,” you reply. “I know what I want and I think it should be obvious to you that I want a dog and I want one right now!”

“Well, then,” the owner replies, “we have a small problem. We don’t have any dogs right now. We expect to have some soon, and I’ll be happy to call you when we get them. Of course, if you are flexible you could consider a cat. We have a large selection of cats and we could offer you a very good deal. It may take some training, but maybe you could teach one of these cats to bark, wag its tail, and fetch sticks. Most people think cats are very smart animals and you seem to be the kind of person who is very good at getting people or pets to do what you want.”

“You make a very good point. I see no reason why I can’t get a cat and teach it how to be a dog. Give me the cat and I’ll train it.”

As the storeowner writes up the sale, she asks, “What are you going to call your pet?” “Fido,” you say.

How do you think Fido’s training is going to go? What are the odds that Fido will bark, wag his tail, and fetch sticks? This may seem like a peculiar story, but similar dramas are played out over and over in the workplace by otherwise perfectly normal human beings.

I believe in training. It’s what I do for a living.

However, the fact remains that some people are totally unsuited for the job they are being asked to do. Spontaneous, shoot-from-the-hip people are asked to handle jobs requiring a high level of detail, introverts are asked to handle jobs calling for an extrovert, domineering people are asked to handle jobs calling for an accommodating personality style, and so forth and so on.

In effect, cats are asked to act like dogs. Here’s some simple advice: Don’t do that!