A friend recently told me that she had called an all-hands meeting with her kids and was laying out a new incentive program to get them to engage more in their tasks around the house. I wonder if that works? If it did, I know it would be best seller material for every manager out there who is the master of their work domain but to whom the mix of teenagers, communication and chores remain a mystery.
Maybe they seem like a mystery, compared to your team at work, because you don’t spend 8 hours a day with them.
Taking our kids to the office on a regular basis might not be feasible, but can we apply the same basics of being a good manager to parenting and get better engaged kids as the end result? Let’s see…
From my experience – two children aged 12 and 18 – being an engaged parent does not become an issue until middle school. Babies, infants, and toddlers dominate our every waking and sleeping moment and as new parents, we cannot help but be overwhelmed by the newness of childraising and importance of keeping another human being alive and well.
Apply this Management Lesson: During this period, like the start-up period for a new company that we are trying to keep alive and well, a one week vacation from our children every year from ages 2-5 can be a sanity, marriage, and life saver.
Once in elementary school, parents still play a meaningful part in a child’s day. They are still young enough to need a ride or an accompanied walk to school. The school itself still needs parents involved in classroom activities or field trips. There is plenty of time for interaction and for getting to know who your child is in their non-home environments. You know their friends and the other parents and it can be a very social, happy time.
Apply this Management Lesson: This is a great period for you to focus on Know, Like and Trust with your kids. Pay attention to them as individuals. Listen to what they have to say. Care about what they care about – even if it’s Justin Bieber.
Middle school is where your involvement in your child’s life and their development changes. It’s summarized nicely by the Coaching Association of Canada:
Up until now, you’ve most likely been directly involved — helping your child learn movement skills, for example, or starting them out in a sport you enjoy. But in the Training to Train stage, your children are more independent, you’re less likely to do sports with them, and your role is more an advisory one. The focus from here on is on things you need to know as opposed to things you can do.
From middle school on, you are less directly involved in your kids lives. They walk to school with friends or take the bus. Teachers don’t want your help. If they play sports, they are likely playing for a trained coach, not you and another parent. They are going through puberty. Their need for independence is high but their confidence and motivation may be low.
Apply this Management Lesson: Move from a focus on Directing your child to Supporting them. The Situational Leadership II framework uses words such as reassuring, appreciating and facilitating to describe how a manager works with a team member who is moderately competent, but not highly confident.
The ability to match your parenting/leadership style to the needs of your kids comes full circle with high school aged teenagers, who have the confidence and the competency in most walks of life but still rely on you for key resources. Resources like money or a car or tuition for school.
Apply this Management Lesson: Like a member of your team at work who has flourished under your leadership, it is now time to let them fly on their own. Not by running their own project or leading their own team but by leaving home for university, choosing a career or travelling in a foreign country without you.
Through it all, parenting and managing are both Service oriented roles that require a major commitment of our time and focus. Like we challenge managers to spend at leats 50% of their time Managing, Not Doing at work – we should accept the same challenge at home, to spend at least 50% of our time Parenting, Not Doing.