Parenting Teens Like a Business Manager?
I had a long career in management and as an executive. I have often said that I was a better manager because I was a successful parent; and I was a better parent because I was a successful manager. I was the mom who flip charted in the kitchen with my four sons, creating rules and incentives and consequences. I created contracts for the cell phone, high school performance expectations, getting a driver’s license, and access to the car. Weird? Maybe. Effective? Well, it got their attention (and of course, lots of rolled eyes and plenty of battles).
So what do the two have in common?
- we don’t (or shouldn’t) parent our children the same way; and we don’t (or shouldn’t) manage our employees the same way because
- they are unique individuals who require communication and engagement differently based on their personality, learning and work style;
- and because they are at different points in their (self)/(professional) development
You’ve heard it said that leaders shouldn’t strive to be liked, but respected. Leaders should be fair. Consistent. Follow through. Be available. So should parents. It’s nice to be liked, but it’s very possible that the transition into adulthood with your children might make that tough….at least for awhile.
This is what I believe – that children, young adults, and employees want to know:
- What is expected of them. (With a student, it’s “their job” to be the best they can be academically and in the extracurricular activities they choose to participate in.)
- That the organization (or family) expects them to actively engage and contribute.
- What their incentives are for performing well. Certainly, intrinsically, it’s the pride of a job well done. Employees can also look forward to (keeping their job), a paycheck, advancement, perks, and benefits. With a student, incentives might be that mom and dad contribute toward furthering their education, provide access to a car, pay the cell phone bill, or continue to provide a roof over their head after high school.
- What the consequences are for non-performance. These are a must and should be understood. When performance managing an employee, regular feedback, coaching, and communication (no surprises) are essential qualities of a good manager. The same is true for a parent of a young adult. Establish consequences up front, such as the loss of a privilege (the xbox, the car)…you know how this works.
- Follow through. In a business environment, the other employees are watching and judging the manager. Non-performers drag down the team and compromise productivity and the reputation of the organization. Similarly, in a family environment, your other children (if there are others) are watching and learning. Your child NEEDS (whether they say this or not) structure and consequences before they are truly ready to live and work in the adult world. This is a gift, and a strong, confident parent knows that.
Our job is tough…and if you are like me, I really miss the days when a “time out” was all that was needed to make an impression, and then love and kisses put the “lesson” in the past and all was quickly forgiven. This is not-so-true when parenting teens and young adults unfortunately…but a job well done means a healthy, vibrant relationship with your grown (and ready to commend you by the time they have their own kids!) adult!
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