Global Leadership Blog
Personal Issues at Work

Managing is Like Parenting

Last week during one of my management development workshops, we were discussing topics like time management, motivation, building trust, and giving feedback, and it struck me how similar managing is to parenting. Although your employees are not children, there is a strong parallel between rearing well-adjusted, productive kids and happy, high-performing employees.


As a parent or manager, you should show commitment by connecting your values to your actions.

Imagine this—your younger child, Jack, grabs a toy from his brother’s hands and because other parents are around you feel uncomfortable disciplining him. You say and do nothing. Later, at home, this scenario repeats itself and Jack is sent to his room—confused. He took the truck before and nothing happened but now he is in trouble. Your lack of commitment to your value of respect sent a mixed message, and as a result, Jack was unclear of how to behave.

The same scenario plays out every day in the workplace. For example, if a manager says he or she is committed to a culture of feedback yet they aren’t around, never invite feedback or are defensive when an employee offers constructive criticism, this lack of commitment to their values sends a mixed message and employees do not know what is expected of them.

Similarly, like a parent, managers need to show their commitment to their team (or family) by making sure they are present for them. Most parents are not going to leave their children every weekend to hang out with their friends or relax at a spa. Instead, they are shuttling their kids to ball games and sitting down to dinner. Managers need to show the same commitment. They need to be available to talk, be present at meetings and conferences, and generally show an interest in their employees.


Parents and managers should consistently contribute their whole self.

Let’s talk about Jack again. Jack loves playing soccer and really loves when his parents are there to watch him. Sometimes you are the loudest, proudest parent at the game. But other times, you are distracted by emails on your phone.

While the situation is understandable, the inconsistency does your child a disservice. Time management is crucial to building trust—for both parents and managers – and trust is the ideal outcome of consistency. It allows your children—and employees—to know what is expected of them so they can be as productive as possible.

If a manager sets a regular meeting at 9 a.m. but often misses it due to an exceptionally busy schedule, he or she risks sending the message that his or her employees are not important. Missing meetings can also disrupt staff’s workflow.

Managing your time effectively is a great way to consistently support your employees—and kids. If you commit to a time, stick to it. If you say you’re going somewhere, do it. If the team’s all going to go to present at a conference and it’s a great opportunity, don’t back out at the last minute.


Parents and managers should help children and employees learn from their mistakes.

When Jack stole his brother’s toy truck, he suffered the consequence of not being able to play with the truck and going to his room. You explained to him his wrongdoing and how he could be better by either waiting until his brother was finished or sharing. Parents must show their children that their actions have consequences—and how to make better decisions.

Managers must do this, too. If an employee has performance issues that need to be remedied, the manager should explain to them what needs to change, help them develop corrective action plans, and follow up with periodic evaluations. (See my former post on Giving Effective Feedback.)

With kids or adults, learn what motivates them and tap into that. A child who loves sports needs to know the privilege of playing may go away if they fail to do their schoolwork. An employee who wants to travel to a conference learns to get their work done in order to take advantage of a trip

Remember your three C’s.

Whether it is teaching little Jack to share or graciously receiving feedback from an employee, parents and managers hold the responsibility of harnessing others’ potential to allow them to become the best they can be. Remembering the importance of commitment, consistency, and consequence will help you be the best parent or manager you can be.

Contact Melissa, *protected email*

Melissa Lamson

About The Author

Melissa Lamson, Founder and President of Lamson Consulting, is an author, consultant, and speaker who accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross cultural communication. More About Melissa Lamson


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