Many years ago I recall being in a management class given by another trainer. All her stories were about her kids and although I was a manager, frankly I could not relate since I never had any. I came away feeling quite disappointed. Fast forward a few years…. I now have a 4 year old, and I’m discovering a lot!

I think my number one revelation is that the main difference between a child (particularly a young one) and an employee is that the former is pretty much stuck with you, while employees are there by choice. Now everyone knows that, but let’s go a bit deeper… These days leaders are gradually learning that if you want employees to stick with you and give their best then you need to act in a way that motivates them – coercion simply does not work in this day and age. With kids, since they are stuck with you (particularly in their dependent years) you have another option – coercion. Let’s face it – you can threaten, punish and force a child into compliance if you really need to. But are the outcomes any different than with employees?

Look at the following statements – how many of them would you agree with?

• The more you use coercion with employees, the more likely they will do the minimum, and eventually take another job.

• The more you use coercion with your kids, the more likely they will do the minimum and look forward to the day they can get out of the house, and potentially your life!

• If you don’t tell your kids that you love them and show that you notice their wonderful qualities and actions, they may grow up with low confidence, possibly one of the biggest root causes of psychological hang-ups in later life.

• If you don’t provide recognition to employees, they may feel unappreciated and disengage with all kinds of consequences to your business (even if you actually do appreciate them).

• If you never give a child enough constructive feedback, they will be prone to developing bad behaviours, leading to much bigger problems later on.

• If you don’t give employees enough constructive feedback, they won’t know how to improve, and those yearly performance reviews become fraught with tension and nasty surprises (especially for the employee).

• If you don’t help your kid understand his/her strengths, weaknesses, drivers and aspirations he or she could spend 6 years at university only to wind up in job that makes them miserable.

• If you don’t hold periodic career discussions with your employees based on strengths, weaknesses, drivers and aspirations, they may wind up in a role that is a poor fit and not give their best, and may leave eventually.

… and finally

• If you solve all your child’s problems and make life easy for them, they are less likely to be able to fend for themselves down the road. When they turn 30 they may still be on the umbilical cord – some parents like this but for most it is pure heartache.

• If you solve all your employee’s problems, don’t be surprised if you find yourself with a poorly developed team, plus feeling totally stressed and overworked.

As I am typing this, I can hear that my kid is yelling and driving my wife crazy – I better go and deal with it. Think quick . . .

Russel Horwitz, Principal