Does parenting make you a better people manager? Shazi Visram’s recent post on Inc.com titled, “Being CEO Makes Me a Better Mother” makes a case for business skills transferring to parenthood. But those skills also transfer in the opposite direction.
Being a parent makes you a better manager at work. With children, you quickly learn that just telling them what to do doesn’t always get the results you had in mind.
Take, for instance, when we asked our son to start doing his own laundry. Months into that assignment, I somehow thought to ask if he was using laundry detergent. His reply: “Oh, do you have to?”
That definitely transfers to the office. Just because you assign someone a task or project, you can’t assume they know the steps you expect them to take to get there.
You also learn with kids that you have to allow for individual style. When I ask my son to take the recycling bin to the curb, I assume he’s going to just pick it up and walk it down the driveway.
His method is to duct tape the giant plastic bin to his motorized scooter. Different approach, same results. The recycling ends up at the curb, either way.
Even though many parents won’t admit to bribery, I find it an effective tool. When it was time for my son to be potty-trained, he happened to be in a major astronaut phase. I promised he could have a real NASA spacesuit (they sell kid-sized versions on their website) as soon as he was sporting underpants full-time. Results were almost immediate. Good thing I’d ordered the spacesuit in advance.
Bribery works for grownups too. Usually we call them Rewards, but same concept. Recently at Tribe, we had a competition between the creative department and the account management department to achieve a certain business goal. We announced that whichever team reached the goal first would win a free Friday off for everyone in that department.
Everybody knows that was a bribe. But what really matters, besides bragging rights for the winners, is knowing they’ve got that extra day of vacation coming.