Everything I Learned about Managing People, I Learned from Parenting

People are people. And little people are surprisingly a lot more like adults than we give them credit for. Or maybe it’s the other way around…? In any case, I’ve learned to be a lot more patient with colleagues since I started having kids who talked back and didn’t always like my decisions.

My top lessons are:

1. There is always a reason why things are not as I think they should be. Sometimes I just have to take the time to understand. There’s usually a really good reason that I wouldn’t have known without asking.

2. Having people buy in is always better than ‘because I said so’. No one likes to blindly follow a rule or directive. Once people understand, they can get behind decisions or directives.

3. When there is ‘bad behaviour’ in some way, there is pain and frustration. A temper tantrum invariable is never about the actual situation that triggered it; there’s always some deeper unspoken underlying issue.

4. Regularly connecting and talking through things will be better than coming down hard on something. Scolding or criticizing won’t change unwanted behaviour, rather, discussions and debating do.

5. If I didn’t set the expectation clearly, then I can’t expect it. No one is a mind reader and no one is perfect. But at the very least, I need to set out everything clearly before I can expect anyone to do it right.

6. Showing by modelling appropriate behaviour always trumps teaching the lesson in a punitive manner. People watch and learn. People emulate and will follow examples set. Punishments just push inappropriate behaviour underground and cause fear.

7. In the absence of clear explanation, people will have their own assumptions. If you don’t set the context, people will create their own stories and filters. So get ahead of things by explaining things clearly so you don’t let the gossiping and misunderstanding get out of control.

8. We will always have disagreements, but we have to start with the benefit of the doubt and not assume bad intentions. Finger pointing and reductionist attitudes only make things worse!

9. People really value honesty, clarity, fairness and consistency. Anything less than that creates imbalance, distrust, discomfort and unhappiness.

10. It takes 5 compliments to erase 1 criticism. Everyone has a tendency to remember and believe something negative said to/about them rather than all the positive things.

Now that I’ve had to deal with my kids, I think I have a much better handle of being patient, open-minded and willing to hear a different perspective. I’m more understanding of adult temper tantrums and much more willing to dig deeper and figure out what is going on. I am much more optimistic about being able to resolve issues and helping colleagues get along with each other. I think I’m a better manager due the lessons I’ve learned from parenting!

Thanks kids!

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