Friday, September 10, 2010

Thoughts on Management and Parenting

Last week marked the bittersweet event of dropping off my (Beth's) oldest child at college. While slightly sad that I am no longer essential, I am proud to see how confidently she is managing this transition. I have been preparing her for this independence for years, gradually giving her more and more responsibility in the home: allowing her to decorate her bedroom as she saw fit (within my parameters of course), requiring that she make her own breakfast and lunch, and making sure that she knew how to cook, clean, sew, shop, arrange appointments, be organized, and most importantly, make decisions. Now is the time to let her try out her skills on her own and accept the mistakes along with the victories. My thinking is that if she was struggling and needing me too much at this moment, then I haven't done my job well as a parent.

This is not very different than the role that a good manager plays in the business setting. A good manager sets the tone, the direction, and the expectations and then allows her employees to assume more and more responsibilities. The entire purpose of having employees is to multiply the amount that can be accomplished by one person alone. Employees need to be provided with clear job descriptions and good training, and then gradually a good manager has to back off and allow the employees to try things on their own, learning from their mistakes en route to the accomplishments. Delegation can be difficult. Accepting that an approach might be different from the way you would have done it but nonetheless effective can be difficult. Both extremes, micromanaging and no managing, lead to nonproductive employees. But an effective manager develops competent employees who see the vision and help to move the company forward. Are you doing your job well as a manager?

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