Motherhood And Management
What does running a business with customer, employee, financial and personal responsibilities have in common with being a mother (or a father)? I discovered that my experience of being a mother of two held many valuable everyday lessons that I could use to run my businesses and make the tough day-to-day decisions. That is not to say that formal training, business schooling, and having the proper resources should be set aside. It IS to say that often the skills a parent learns in running a household, managing the family affairs, and parenting children are often over-looked when it’s time to move out into the business world again. Here are some thoughts on the subject:
Dry the Tears & Send Them Out Again —
None of us like to fail - toddlers, teenagers or adults. However, failure brings many defining moments and important lessons that success never would. Children (even adults) often get discouraged. When you as the parent are there to there to kiss the boo-boos, pat them on the rump and send them out again — everything looks brighter. As a parent, you realize kids need to learn to handle the difficulties - the same principle applies in the workplace. You must realize they may not succeed the first time, but will learn from each risk taken. You must create the framework for rewards and mistakes. Make it acceptable for employees to be innovative and take calculated risks, giving them team support, resources and guidance.
From the Dinner Table to the Conference Table —
Moms are busy and especially working moms. You may not always have the time or the energy to fully communicate with your children. How often have you asked, “How as your day?” only to receive the same answer I did, “Okay” and nothing more. Doesn’t tell one a lot, does it? However, if you eat dinner together, often the conversation will develop into more and you will actually find out some of the details of your child’s life and they yours. Keeping the lines of communication open is the key to family bonding, understanding and perhaps the key to keeping your child away from drugs and other temptations. In an organization, formal and informal talks are the key to cohesiveness, openness, and create the space for employees to share ideas and problems, which may lead to increased opportunities. Sitting around a conference table or coffee room is a perfect place to brainstorm and create solutions.
Go To Bed, Now! Vs. Get Out There, Now!
Any mom hears ‘ No’ a lot and is often ignored. However, she is uniquely qualified to never let it stop her. Just as you must continue to nag your child to go to bed when it is bedtime, you must continue to be persistent in sending your employees out to get more business, give more value, get more training or knock on more doors. You as the business owner or manager must do the same with yourself. Your ‘internal critic’ may often say “No”. When this happens, where is the ‘No’ coming from —the parent or child within you?
Send the Dog to Obedience School or Attend With the Dog?
It is often so desirable to send the kids for a weekend with the grandparents or to hire a sitter to take them to the park. This is totally permissible on occasions when you need the space for self-care and balance; however when you join the children, whether in taking a hike, building the doghouse or cleaning the garage, there is much to be learned from sharing the experience together. In business the CEO should have an understanding of how each department functions within the organization and should spend time getting to know the team. Don’t be afraid to get involved with a project or be apart of the employee training (meaning you take it with them). The shared experience is invaluable, besides you need to continue to evolve as well, otherwise the dog won’t listen to you.
Menus For 5 or Five Hundred -
Any mother knows how to plan menus, shop for fresh food, look for bargains and how to do a dozen other things while preparing dinner. When a mom decides to open a restaurant, what changes? Little, other than greater calculated risks, perhaps a cooking class, maybe higher overhead, and less control over how many show up for dinner. Mom is still preparing the menus, ordering the food, being mindful of the costs, mindful of variety, presentation, table settings and the comfort of the guests. Bon appetite!
CFO vs. The Cookie Jar —
As a parent we constantly juggle the household finances - cash in and cash out on a monthly, weekly and sometimes daily basis. Being mindful of the mortgage costs, education costs, and savings for retirement. When you are the owner or CFO of a business, your concerns are cash on hand, cash flow, cash reserves, investments, and retirement plans. Same agenda — just bigger thinking and hopefully a nicer salary.
It is my hope that if you are thinking of starting a business or thinking of getting into the workforce again, you can use these lessons to empower yourself to become a more successful business owner and/or manger. As much as we as parents try to separate home life and work life, it becomes more difficult. Why not use this as an opportunity to see how the lessons at home are applicable in the business environment and vice versa. Transferring of skills can ease the load.
Original idea from an article in May/June 2003 Women in Business (pg 16) by Lisa Kent, President & CEO of neXpansion. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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