Monday, October 31, 2005

From Mom To Manager

There are many benefits from being a mother that extend outside your role as the matriarch in your family. You can use valuable skills that you master when you have a baby to transfer to workplace issues. Here are a few examples.

First, you can learn to set clear limits. When your baby starts crawling, you will need to set boundaries, even if that means putting up a baby gate. You can apply the same principle to your employees. You are so clear with baby because you understand that he needs it; being as clear with employees by implementing concrete policies (you are allowed one five-minute personal phone call a day) instead of abstract ones (don't use the phone much for personal business).

The second Mommy lesson that you can transfer is learning not to overreact to mistakes. When baby gets excited and slaps a bowl of cereal, spilling milk, you react calmly (or you should). It is not the baby's fault; mistakes happen. Your employees are the same. They make mistakes - forgetting a staff meeting or running late once. You should be as forgiving about human mistakes with your employees as you are with your baby.

If this baby is not your first one, you likely have realized that your children are very different, despite having the same environment. Still, you do not say, "well, Jane, why can't you talk? Brenda had said her first word by now?" Similarly, why would you say to an employee, "David had the system down after one week. Why don't you?" Avoid making idle comparisons of your employees and focus on helping the specific employee who needs you.

Learn to allow your employees some independence. Although it hurts for a mom to see her little one gain independence, especially if that independence comes with a fall or bump, it is a necessary part of parenting. The same concept applies in the workplace. Employees need you to teach them about their jobs, but then they need to practice on their own. You may be reluctant to allow your green agent to host her first open house without you, but you must permit her to grow as an employee even if she makes mistakes.

The final lesson that we learn from motherhood is to stay calm when things go wrong. Murphy's Law is especially harsh when it comes to parenting issues. Anytime you need to get somewhere on time, you will find a sick baby, spilled milk, or a lost shoe. Those problems, in adult form, crop up in the workplace. Everything does not work out perfectly. Keep that fact in mind and be sure that you account for problems. Stay calm. Your employees will appreciate you, and you will be a better manager.

These parts of motherhood are perfect for transferring managerial skills to the workplace. Many stay-at-home moms who decide to go back to work find that they do not think they have gained any skills while they have been at home, but in reality, motherhood is all about valuable skills that you can use at work, too.

By Julia Mercer

No comments: