If you’ve ever led a management seminar that was attended by employees who are also parents, you’ve probably heard the comments. “Wow, this sounds like how I talk to my kid,” or “There’s a lot of crossover here.”
It’s true; parents have a skillset which easily transfers into the workplace, helping parents to be better managers and team leaders. If you are aware of the skills that cross over well, you can develop them to improve your business personality, and your overall stress level at work.
As any parent knows, kids require a huge amount of conflict resolution. Since kids are young, tend to have poor emotional control, and don’t generally have a lot of skills to handle “But he took my toy!” without resorting to throwing things, they end up outsourcing a lot of conflict resolution to their parents.
Good parents walk their kids through the process of identifying the problem, considering the emotional impact, and problem solving a solution. Parents can choose to simply tell kids what to do, and sometimes that’s necessary. But whenever possible, good parents look for ways to help their kids understand what’s going on, and give them skills to improve their performance next time.
Although employees are adults who have more of these skills, sometimes workplace conflicts need an outside perspective. Managers can help to provide this.
Working parents are particularly aware; there’s simply not enough time in the day to get everything done and they are constantly are on a move. Between school, homework, activities, and family time, parents often end up feeling strung out and overtired. Successful parents, therefore, pick and choose what’s going to be most important. They prioritize both their needs, and the needs of the overall family.
Instead of trying to do everything, they find the most important things and make sure they’re done well. Sometimes they delegate certain tasks. For example, cleaning could be managed through a family chore list, or by hiring a housekeeper.
Successful employees also know how to manage their time in order to make sure that everything that needs to get done gets done.
Single people without kids have a lot of flexibility in terms of how their time and money get spent. If they choose to spend more money than they should on nights out, and then need to eat ramen for the week to make up the budget difference, that’s their choice. Kids are generally less friendly about getting nothing but peanut butter on bread for two weeks because their parents spent money on an unnecessary time.
Parents who own their own businesses, or who are responsible for company financials, understand the importance of careful budgeting and financial preparation. They invest in security items like business insurance to make sure that their business is protected in case of emergency, financial loss, or disaster.
Creative Problem Solving
Sometimes, it feels like there are no good solutions as a parent. Two people have needs that are incompatible, or two kids need to be in two separate places at the same time. Once or twice you might be able to rob Peter to pay Paul, but it doesn’t work in the long term. Parents work to find solutions to problems like incompatible food allergies, frustrating and conflicting schedules, and personalities that just don’t seem to mesh together at all.
To overcome these sorts of problems, they find creative solutions, from dividing bedrooms in half to finding meals that everyone can eat to getting someone to help with child transportation. This broad approach to problem solving helps them find the right way to solve complex problems in the work place.
Bringing the Fun
Parents regularly have to sell kids on something that seems beyond boring. Siblings need a trip to the doctor, or to be at the park while their sibling plays a sport, or even just putting up with a household entertainment item, like a TV or gaming system, being broken. Parents work to bring the fun to avoid stress and keep the household running smoothly. They do it without being too peppy, which makes everyone doubt their sincerity, or giving up, which will make the household intolerable.
Similarly, parents in the workplace often know how to admit that a project is hard, tedious, or incredibly complex, but making it sound like a challenge the team can take on, instead of a hardship to endure. They can build up the team spirit and manage social anxiety that will help the company over the long term.
Parents have significant skills that help them survive and thrive in fast paced business environments. While these skills can certainly be learned in other arenas, parents tend to have mastered them already, before they get into the business world. This makes parents exceptional businesspeople and fantastic team members.