Sunday, June 17, 2012

5 Business Lessons From Dad

Dads have the ability to give us different life lessons than our Moms.  Dads state things differently, have a different view, and most of the time they don't worry about sugar coating the lessons.  Here are 5 business lessons from Dad: 

Lesson #1:  Keep your eye on the ball.  My dad was the one that taught me how to throw a ball.  It's because of his teaching that allowed me to play on various traveling softball teams and contributed greatly to my All Conference award in high school.  This lesson translates seamlessly over to business.  All too often we get side tracked and distracted.  When you take your eye off the ball, it rolls under your glove allowing a hitter to get on base.  In business, when we take our eye off the goals, opportunities will slide right out from our grasp and allow the competition to get ahead of us.  

Lesson #2:  If you're going to do a job, do it right.  I remember this lesson well.  When I was a Girl Scout, one of the badges had a requirement to build something.  Dad taught me how to build a shelf.  I was quickly bored with this project.  I wanted to ride my bike and go outside and play with my friends, not hang out in the garage and build a stupid shelf.  To that end, of course I started going too fast.  Dad slowed me down and taught me the importance of "measure twice, cut once".   As we go through our day in the business world, this same lesson still applies.  You can always tell when someone is just dialing it in.  Make sure that when you're assigned a it right.  Yes, it matters.  

Lesson #3:  Sometimes all a bully needs is a good karate chop.  My sister was getting picked on by this guy on the bus.  He would put his arm across the seats blocking her way to get off the bus.  Dad said to just give him a good old fashioned karate chop on the arm and he would never block her way again.   This turned out to be true.  While it's not ok to just karate chop someone in the office, it's important that as a leader and manager that you handle the bullies.    Steps to take: 

      1.  Address the problem with the employee in a 1:1 meeting with examples of the behavior that should cease.  
      2.  Allow the employee to comment on these examples and give them a chance to come up with the action plan they will follow.  They may give you some insight as to why they are acting this way.  
      3.  Make sure you are prepared with the action plan the employee should follow going forward and present to them if they did not come up with the appropriate response on their own.  Keep in mind that there may be actions that YOU will have to do as well to help them (and the team).  
      4.  Follow up with this in writing and make sure you've let the employee know the consequences should that behavior continue.  
      5.  Like a karate chop, do this swiftly so their actions don't get out of control and involve HR when appropriate.   Inability to take action will hurt your team. 

If YOU are the bully:   Cut it out.  Seriously.  There is no need for managers to be bullies.  You already have the power...use it for good.  If you don't know how to do that, email me for some 1:1 coaching on how to be a better manager.  My rates are reasonable.

Lesson #4:  The less you talk the smarter you look:  My Dad is a man of few words.  He chooses his words carefully and therefore has earned a reputation of being an intelligent man.  Good news...he really IS a smart guy.   As leaders,  we should remember the old adage:  We have 2 ears and one mouth and they should be used in proper proportion.   At one point Dad and I were working at the same big company in different departments.  My employees got to know him and would often see him in the cafeteria and on breaks.   I always got HUGE compliments on how great he is.  Even to this day, my old team will still ask about him.  Leaders, let's be careful with our words...everyone is always watching and waiting to hear what we have to say and how we say it.  Then they watch to see if our actions match what we say.  

Lesson #5:  It's ok to let star players move on....handle disappointment with grace:  When I was 11 or 12, I played softball in a recreation league and my Dad was the head coach.  He believed that recreation leagues are there to give everyone a chance to play.  Well, I am super duper competitive and a good athlete.  This was not ok with me.  I felt like I needed to be on a team that was focused on winning.  I think it disappointed him that I didn't want to play for him, but he let me go play for my friend Natalie's Dad who's coaching was more in line with what I wanted.   He did this with grace...he understood it was the best thing for me at that time.  As leaders and managers, sometimes we have to let our star players move on...and let other stars emerge.  It's disappointing when our top performers want to leave...we try entice them to stay with more money or more perks.  There are times when this works out well.   Leaders, go with your instincts on KNOW when it's time for the star to leave for another opportunity.  Make sure you're building a strong bench of players that can step in.  

As this Father's Day comes to a close, take a few moments to reflect upon the lessons we've learned from great men in our lives.   

1 comment:

Frederuco said...

As always, well said!