Tag: service

Take One for the Team

Take One for the Team

It’s a phrase I heard quite a bit when I played baseball in college  –  “Take One for the Team”.  Players were expected to make a physical sacrifice for the good of the team and it was often painful.  A catcher who blocked the plate with 200lbs of runner charging down the third base line trying to score the winning run.  The middle infielder who keeps his nose down on a rocket one-hopper on a bad infield, risking a solid shot to his chest or face to keep the ball in front of him.  The shortstop who doesn’t step away from the runner sliding into second with his cleats high to ensure the double play is turned.  The pitcher who throws more innings than he should in a lopsided game who sacrifices his arm and his stats to provide rest for other pitchers who will play the next day.  Or most often, the batter who crowds the plate on a hard throwing pitcher, willing to wear one in the ribs or in the back to get the tying run on base late in the game.  These acts are universally well respected by teammates as serving the good of the team ahead of your personal accomplishments.

A good Manager should also know when to take one for the team.

When a project goes sideways and an important date is not met by your team, whether the reasons for going off the rails were within their control or a Force Majeure, you the manager have to take the heat from the big boss.

When an irate customer wants someone’s head on a platter for a late delivery or a botched installation by your team, you the manager have to put your head in the guillotine.

When you ask a member of your team to do things a little different, you the manager have to calm the waters with all the others who object to something new and make sure they know it was your idea.

Taking bullets like these are part of the job for a good manager with training and experience and selflessness acting as body armor.  What made you a good manager protects you, so you can protect them.  Your team doesn’t need to take fire for a mistake twice, once from you and once from an outsider (and yes the big boss is an outsider as far as your team goes).  Whether their failure was small or large, they will have already paid the price and seen their professional self-perception wounded within the team and behind the closed door when you reviewed the situation with them.  And hopefully, they will have taken the correction and criticism personally and learned from it for the future.

When a manager recognizes that a situation requires him to step in between his team and a problem , he must be willing to do so for the long-term benefit of the company. It won’t be as physically painful as getting a fastball in the ribs, but you will likely take some heat from a vendor, a key customer or the big boss.  The personal sting will last a couple of days but the respect from your team will more than compensate for the short-term discomfort.

And earning the trust of your team is the hallmark of a Good Manager.

Can You Manage Your Kids Like You Manage Your Team?

Can You Manage Your Kids Like You Manage Your Team?

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.

Related Post:  Vacation Days Are Not the Answer

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.

Read More Posts Related to Know Like and Trust

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.