Managing and Parenting…how alike they are

When dropping my 3yr old son off at school the other day, I happened to see a handout posted on the parent board…talking about the “Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting” and it struck me how easily these can be applied to management:

  1. What you do matters: How we treat and respond to our employees should come from a knowledgeable, deliberate sense of what we want the team/dept to accomplish.  We should always ask, “What effect will my decision have on my employee?”
  2. You cannot be too loving: Okay, so obviously loving your employee is something usually (and most appropriately) discouraged :P.  With that said, a simple rewording of this rule and it becomes applicable: “You cannot be too encouraging“.  You cannot encourage your employees too much.
  3. Be involved in your child’s life: With a little tweaking, this again makes sense. Be involved in your employee’s career. Being an involved manager takes time and is hard work, and it often means rethinking and rearranging your priorities. It frequently means sacrificing what you want to do for what your employee needs you to do.  A good manager tries to do what’s best for their employees career, not their own.
  4. Adapt your parenting to fit your child: Make sure your management style keeps pace with your employee’s/team’s development.  A manager must be able to switch management styles to fit the employee, the team, and the current project situation/work climate
  5. Establish and set rules: “Code of Conduct” is probably better than “rules”, but a manager and his/her team should all agree to and abide by them.  They provide structure and encourage ethical behaviour. When employees are confronted with a challenging issue, a code is a valuable resource…especially when the manager is not around for consultation.
  6. Foster your child’s independence: Managers are ultimately “enablers”, we are they’re to provide the support, tools, backing, info, etc to enable our employees.  This means we want them to be comfortable and prepared to make decisions for themselves…independently, because this fosters ownership in the success of the team and organization as a whole.
  7. Be consistent: Inconsistency in how you treat your employees leads to distrust the “cancer” of a well-formed team.
  8. Avoid harsh discipline: Firing should be the last result (except for those occasions when the employee has broken the law or crossed the line of accepted and decent, social behavior).  It’s very expensive monetarily and time-wise to replace an employee.  Not that you should tolerate mediocrity and/or apathy in the workplace, but you should try to find the reason behind it and work to a solution, if at all possible.
  9. Explain your rules and decisions: Be up front with employees and your team whenever possible.  Your employees would rather know the reason for a decision they disagree with or you had no say in making, than have you use the “because I’m the boss” approach.
  10. Treat your child with respect: This is a no brainer. Managers who treat their employees with respect, gain their trust.  A manager who has the trust and respect of his/her employees will be able to tackle the most difficult of challenges.

Note, this is not to say employees are like children, or only parents can be good managers.  More so, it is to point out the important roles managers can play in the growth and development of employees….if the job is done well.


About Robbie

I live in the awesome city of Austin, TX and work for Canonical, sponsors of the best damn operating system in the world...Ubuntu.

Posted on January 30, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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