For those of us with kids have you have ever asked your kids to clean their room, and you come to realize hours later that their version of clean and your version of clean exist in two different universes? You scold them and say “I told you to clean your room” only to get this confused look on their faces. Have you ever stopped to think of the time you explained to your kid(s) what clean means to you? I know it may seem trivial but think about it, how many times do we get upset in the work environment when a superior who gave vague detail about a task that you know you would be evaluated on.
They are some parallels between raising kids and having to manage employees. If you don’t believe me, I am sure you have heard someone refer to their managerial duties as adult babysitting. Parents like managers are to groom and pull out the full potential of their children (employees). Also, there is a superior and subordinate relationship as well as teacher and student. Being a parent can give a different insight on how to be a better manager.
Here are some tips from a parental view to succeed with your subordinates:
- Communication- the right words in the right tone at the perfect moment carries immense power. Give clear instructions and say precisely what you mean without further need to elaborate. There should be no room for mind reading. They (employees and children) deserve complete instructions, (due dates, amount of detail) do not leave anything but how they will complete the task up for interpretation. Employees should have some autonomy in how they complete their tasks. We complain that we do not have enough time to elaborate but have to spend more time on the back end to correct potential mistakes.
- Expectations- a few of us have more than one child and have more than one subordinate, just like your children they are all individuals and the expectations set for one should not mirror the other. What one child (employee) may excel in the other may not and vice versa. One employee may just know what you mean regardless of what you say, but will that work for all employees?
- Open Door-Closed Mind-I have seen many incoming managers give their first briefing to the newly acquainted staff and say ‘I have an open door policy”, but when tested it was found to be untrue. If you do not have an open door don’t say so, and if you do have one be prepared for everything that will be heard as a result. Having a closed mind and shutting down employees before they can get their thoughts out can be very demeaning. Whats important to your staff may not be on your list of priorities, but it means the world to an employee to be listened to, the same way it does to a child.
- Room to Fail-a mistake can be greeted in a myriad of ways, but two are most likely to happen, a scolding or a teachable moment. I am urging for the latter, let’s make mistakes teachable moments, let’s discuss where the employee went wrong and what will be done differently next time. Some managers have a facade of being approachable if you often wonder why your employees won’t ask you questions you may need to re-evaluate your level of communication. In regards to repeated mistakes, all bets are off, kids and employees!
- Do as I say……-this is an absolute must for parents and managers, please stop saying one thing and doing another. Both roles lose credibility with the authoritarian gesture of well I can do it but you can’t. Employees like kids are always watching what you are doing versus what you are saying. Don’t be a toxic leader regardless of the situation. You set the standard for the household and your business setting. Uphold that rule at all times.
I understand many do not have kids however you can still learn from the tips listed above. The intent was not to alienate anyone but just advice from a different perspective.