This week I have my kids at my childhood farm in Iowa. For the most part my kids are “city kids” and when we get the farm there are some new rules. When the kids play in the garage at home, putting tools away is required but the ramifications of leaving them out is not much more than getting lectured by the parents. However, when the kids are at the farm and leave a tool in the yard, the ramifications are costly. One hammer left out can completely ruin a very expensive riding lawn mower. And, when the yard is several acres, it is hard to check the grass ahead of time. The kids don’t have the wherewithal to see the ramifications of their actions; until they learn the hard way or are told.
This scenario makes me think of a similar phenomenon in the workplace. Business needs people who are willing to venture out into the “yard” with their tools to drive GP and grow. However, often the business development people leave their tools in the yard for the fulfillment side of the business to pick up. Common behavior…and annoying behavior.
To teach these next generation workers to think beyond their own actions, consider having some of these discussions:
- Thinking: Are you doing the thinking for your kids? Each time there is an action that has an effect on someone else, are you handling the situation for them? Or asking them what the potential outcome might be? When the hammer was left in the yard, should we have picked it up and put it away? Or was there a better option? Managers at work are guilty too. Solving all problems with no explanation to the actions does not benefit the organization. If a sales manager over promises, a fulfillment manager might under deliver. No one wins in that situation. Rather, if the sales manager spent some time looking at and thinking about fulfillment or fulfillment took the time to communicate their process, they would both be less likely to sell a potential mess.
- Logic: Ask kids to explain the next steps in any situation. When traveling, ask them (age appropriate) questions about how to find out if the plane is on time, the next gate or where to find ground transportation. Don’t lead automatically and let them blindly follow you. Logical thinking leads to better behaviors in the workplace and when kids are taught at home it will be inherent.
- Relevancy: When I asked about the hammer in the yard, I get all the reasons why they needed the hammer. I don’t care. That is not relevant. They didn’t put it away. That is relevant. How often at work do you pose a question to get the answer to a different question?
- Accuracy: “Yes. What is the question?” Often kids jump into something and then figure out if it is a good idea later. At work, the goal is to drive business and saying “yes” to everything is pretty easy. It is better to find out if something is actually possible and communicate an honest “no” than to try to please upfront. Teach kids to look at the facts and make accurate decisions.
Sound decision-making is arguably the biggest part of getting a promotion in the workplace. Teaching this at home can offer kids a huge advantage when they start their own career. Parenting with this in mind takes more time and sometimes more pain, but teaching why they can’t leave their tools behind is the right thing to do.