3 months after my daughter was born, I returned to work and landed another new role: manager. Over the last few years, it’s become clear to me that there is a lot of overlap in skills and strategy between being a good mom and a good manager. (Although, thankfully, potty training is not in my job description as a manager.) Below, I’ve shared 10 things both good moms and good managers do to bring out the best in their kids and/or their employees.
1. Communicate clearly.
If you are not clear about what you want from people–whether those people be adult professionals or 3-year-olds–you will not get what you want from them. Be explicit in what you need or expect. Don’t leave room for confusion or for someone to take advantage of your wishy-washyness.
2. Set high expectations and stick by them.
Moms and managers alike have a bad habit of setting a low bar for their kids and their employees. Whenever you expect mistakes, bad behavior, and/or failure of the people around you, though, you often ensure that that’s exactly what you get. Set high, skill- and age-appropriate expectations for the people around you, and hold them to those expectations. Often, this makes people feel like you have confidence and trust in them, and they will rise to the occasion. If they don’t, clearly and firmly let them know what you expect from them next time. Don’t let mistakes and bad behavior slide.
3. Be consistent.
If you are not consistent about your rules, policies, and expectations, your kids and co-workers will both fail to follow them. Not only have you demonstrated by your own behavior that you don’t value your rules, policies, and expectations, but it’s very likely you’ve set some confusing precedents for your children and/or employees who aren’t sure what exactly you want of them. Consistency helps everyone know exactly what to expect and therefore how they should proceed.
4. Be kind.
People have bad days. People go through tough, trying situations. People make mistakes. This is true whether we’re talking about your baby or the grandmother nearing retirement on your team. Show empathy. Listen and offer support. Kindness, warmth, and understanding allow others to trust and confide in you, which in turn gives you the opportunity to help them and make the situation better.
5. Lead by example.
If you have set a rule or expectation for your children or employees to follow, you should follow the same rules and hold yourself to the same standard. Failing to lead by example, as with failing to be consistent, can be confusing for those who look to you for leadership and demonstrates that you do not value your own rules and expectations. Also, no one likes a hypocrite, and adults and children alike will scream “not fair!” if you too frequently fall back on “do as I say, not as I do.”
6. Recognition is important.
Praising the accomplishments of others is critical. Not only does it make people feel good to have their hard work and effort noticed, but it also serves as positive reinforcement for the kind of behavior you want to see.
7. Don’t micromanage.
No one likes someone breathing down their neck, telling them what to do, and when and how to do it. Children and adults alike think, “I can do it myself!” and the truth is, most of the time, they can! All your micromanaging does is undermine their self-confidence and their belief that you trust them, and usually wastes a lot of your time and energy. Let your kids and coworkers do their work themselves, without your interference. If they want your help, they’ll ask.
One big thing moms and managers often have in common: they have too many tasks on their plates. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, delegate your tasks to other people. That may mean trusting another manager or one of your employees to take on some of your work, or that may mean asking your husband or even your children to take on some new responsibilities at home. You don’t have to do it all yourself, and often, people feel a boost in confidence when you trust them to take on work you normally do yourself.
9. Keep your germs to yourself.
If you are sick, stay home. With your employees, that may mean strictly enforcing sick leave and work from home policies. With your kids, it may mean keeping them home from daycare or avoiding a fun outing you were looking forward to. Germs are one thing no one wants to share.
10. Vacation is necessary.
Just like vacation from your job can be vital to your sanity, stress levels, and ability to do your job effectively, sometimes taking a vacation from your children can be vital to your sanity, stress levels, and ability to parent effectively. Make time for yourself, and when you step away, truly step away. You’ll be a better manager and mom for it.