The best parenting advice I ever got was to date my kids. For all the parenting mistakes I made, I took this one to heart and to this day I have strong relationships and open communication with my adult children. The idea is simple. I asked for one hour each week and I’d buy (of course). They pick the place and time, they just have to talk…about anything. Their agenda not mine, I just needed to hear what’s going on. My promise was not to lecture.
Here's why it works. It’s a safe place, it’s about them and we developed the discipline and trust before the crises occurred. To build solid relationships that are based on trust, it takes time invested and it doesn't happen by itself.
Great Managers Date Their Teams
This is a perfect illustration for how we become great managers and get the most out of our people. The EOS journey is about becoming your best. We challenge each of our clients to become their best, and part of that is being "good parents.” Just have a few rules, repeat yourself often and above all be consistent—walk the talk. As managers, we also need to have regular meetings with our people to build relationships and stay connected, especially in this digital virtual world.
Maybe you’re thinking, "Well, I talk to my people every day…" "When I need something I just go ask them…" or, "Just last week I had some open time so I popped in and gave Bill 30 minutes to give me an update." There are several weakness here. We may talk to people, but is it focused on them and their needs or just what we want? Is it driven by your schedule, when it’s convenient for you? Is it random? If you only get a few times a year with the boss you certainly want to be prepared, not surprised!
The Greatest Management Weakness
A manager's greatest weakness is missing the opportunity to strengthen your relationships with your people, and it’s simple to correct. By scheduling these one-on-ones, you show that you value them and their time, you're committed to their success over the long haul, you build trust by saying you’ll be there and showing up. Will things come up and be rescheduled? Of course, that’s life. But you're committed to staying connected. You’re willing to share with them your most precious and perishable commodity, your time.
Commit to Your Commitments
I met weekly for coffee with each of my kids. When my youngest was in junior high, he picked Starbucks every Monday evening at 7:30. Every Monday morning he would ask, "Are we going out for coffee tonight?" Yep, Son!
After literally months of this same question every week, in spite of fairly consistent execution on my part, why did he keep needing to ask? Then it hit me. He knew how important my schedule was, and being there for my clients. I had trained him for all 12 years of his life that there is a schedule but if a work thing came up you dropped what you’re doing and responded. I served the all-powerful calendar. I confess (and I'm not proud of it) that I even bumped some family commitments for work things. He understood that it’s just how it goes sometimes. But I was missing the opportunity to show him just how valuable he is to me.
So the next Monday morning when he walked by on his way out the door and asked, "Coffee tonight Dad?" I told him I wanted to show him something. I turned my laptop around and pointed to a green box at 7:30 on Monday evening that said Ethan-Coffee. Then I showed him that little repeating arrows circle. He had made it on to Dad’s calendar—forever, right there among all the work stuff! For the rest of high school he never had to ask again.
Simple things can demonstrate value, build trust and strengthen relationships. This will produce greater accountability and better results.
Continue the journey and stay focused!
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