Monday, March 1, 2010

Managing is Like Parenting

The scene: a teen who won’t get up on his own for school. The parent standing outside the bedroom yelling, “Are you up? Get up! You’ll be late again!”

Depending on how long this scenario has been playing out at this house, the parent might be red in the face or weary and the teen oblivious or sulky.

Off the teen goes to school complaining. “Man, my parents suck. They don’t get me. They aren’t helping me. They don’t understand.”

(the parent is … if they are like me… whimpering quietly in a corner at work not wanting to go home and start phase II “Do you have homework? Is it done? Did you talk to your teacher?” *sob*)

You’ve tried everything – pleading, punishing, reasoning… nothing works. Why?

Because folks can only motivate themselves.

We become 15 years old at work. I don’t know why and I’m no exception. We expect our managers to support and build our careers and reputations. We complain if we don’t like things. We roll our eyes at the photocopier when peers ask “How’s it going?”.

Uh huh.

So here’s what I did. I now ignore my teen in the morning. It took about two weeks till he realized I really wasn’t going to wake him up – that it is his responsibility. It’s not a big one and I don’t know why I wasn’t giving it up sooner. I am no longer screaming like a wild woman as my first act of the day. And my kid now is very proud of owning his mornings (yes, not only does he get up, he gets up on time!). I bet my neighbours like the new regime too.

I also now tell folks that they own their careers. I’ll offer to share the tools at my disposal but if they don’t want to do the work or the planning, their advancement/development/satisfaction is solely their problem.

Managers can coach. Managers can help. Managers are part of the solution - but not the entire pathway to the resolution.

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