Sunday, May 13, 2012

3 Lessons From Mom that Managers Can Learn From

If there was a "Mom Playbook", I imagine that it would hold many similarities to a "Manager Playbook".  Out of that playbook, I've chosen three different lessons that we learn from the mothers out there.

1.  You wear many hats.

Growing up my mom had many duties.  Until we got to "chore" age, she handled all these duties by herself.  Even after we learned, I bet she had to go behind us and re-do some of the "work" we had done.   Well, probably just what my sister did, I'm sure I did everything right.  :-)  Mom was the cook, the maid, the chauffeur, teacher, bank teller, tailor, detective (you know it's true), disciplinarian....I could go on and on.   She wore all those hats seemingly effortlessly and while she has hung up the cook hat (for the most part---ha ha), in her home she is still the maid, does the laundry, and I still call on her incredible skills as a tailor.

In management, we do the same thing.  Often we have to change hats depending on what we are doing.   Sometimes we find ourselves wearing a coaches hat and calling the play.  That's the fun part of management...being IN the action with the team.  The other hats may not be as fun but are necessary.   My excel guru hat is battered from all the forecasting over the years in that tool.  There are days when you wear the therapist hat and listen to what is going on in the lives of your team member.  The detective hat comes on when we have to figure out how a deal (or employee) has gone awry.  Even when we get to put on the party hat with the team at the company holiday party, it's still important to keep in check so that it's not embarrassing to show up the next day.  Oh, you know what I'm talking about.  ;-)

2.  You teach independence.

From an appropriate age, Mom taught us to help out with chores.  To this day, I still load the dishwasher the same way that mom taught me to.  She taught independence by giving us chores in increasing levels of difficulty.  When I was old enough,  Mom encouraged work.  I started with babysitting, then was a lifeguard at the local pool and started waiting tables at 16 so that I could earn money.  She took the time early to teach that we could do things on our own, sending us the message that we had abilities and could make it.

A manager's goal is to do the same thing.  We want our employees to be able to excel!  Here are some things that we have to make sure they know to be independent on the job:  

   a.  Make sure they understand the tools needed to do the job.
   b.  Get them a mentor (either inside or outside the company) so they continue to grow.
   c.  Give them a safe environment to ask questions so they will not take on a 'victim' mentality.
   d.  Ensure they understand the consequences to non performance.
   e.  Make sure they know the progression path, even if there is not one!!
   f.  Meet on a regular basis to discuss how they are doing on their goals (work and personal!).
   g.  Don't forget to tell them what they are doing RIGHT as well as ways to improve.

This a starting point to getting independence from the team!!

3.  Sometimes you have to be the bad guy.

No one likes to deliver bad news.  While growing up, I was certain that my mother was the original Dr. No (not in the good James Bond way).  It was not until much later that I learned that Mom had to be the bad guy sometimes so that I wouldn't get into even more trouble than I did on my own.

"No, you can't stay out until 2 am"
"No, you can't wear that mini mini mini skirt"
"No, you can't beat on your sister"

All good lessons that I adhere to even today.

Every manager has had to deliver bad news.   Whether it's a reduction in benefits, layoffs, a termination or even a less than stellar review,  there are times when managers must be the bad guy.  Here are a few tips on how to be the bad guy in the best way possible:

   a.  Keep the message brief and direct.
   b.  Be respectful and don't sugar-coat.
   c.  Take ownership of the blaming.
   d.  Don't be a coward...deliver the message face-to-face, not via email.
   e.  When appropriate, allow for a question and answer session.
   f.  Keep your own emotions in check...role play ahead of time to get wording down.

As this Mother's Day comes to close, take a few moments to reflect and be thankful for your Mother or the mother figures that you've had and have in your life.

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