Managing employees is as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4
For most parents of school-aged children, the start of a new school year brings much excitement and needed structure. It might also stress the household with everyday homework assignments.
Whether it’s checking the accuracy of your kids’ work, creating ideas on an easier way for them to solve the problem, or perhaps just patting them on the back with joy that they’re performing their best, homework requires management.
Managing homework comes with even bigger challenges. The obvious is that I’m dealing with children who are more interested in the smell of dinner cooking while juggling other tasks and keeping an ear open for the buzz of the dryer telling me that yet another load of laundry is ready.
Furthermore, I’m not in the classroom to understand their actual work goals. I’m not there to know how their work is measured, or how the teacher explained the task and how it ties into the bigger picture.
I’ve managed many teams in my career — on site, virtual, entry-level, and professional — and I must say that managing homework is not much different than managing people. There are basic principles that are fundamental to achieving a desired outcome.
- Scheduling. Keeping a routine schedule with set times to do homework creates a daily habit for the child. Creating an environment free of distractions is time well spent. Similarly, scheduling one-on-ones with your employees allows for structured dialogue and provides an opportunity to ensure expectations are clear. Frequent and structured dialogue leaves little room for unbalanced agendas.
- Modeling. Parent modeling during homework influences the child, especially if the modeling is perceived by the child as competent and possessing skills they perceive as valuable. Similarly, when employees see their managers exhibiting the values set by the company, they are likely to adopt these attitudes and behaviors as well.
- Reinforcement. When reinforcement is positive and associated with valued consequences, the child will demonstrate those same behaviors. Giving direct and timely feedback to employees is equally important. Take the time to explain the desired outcome and outline the important tasks required to get there. Revisit the goal often to ensure there is adequate understanding and commitment to achieve.
- Praise. Genuine praise motivates children to perform at their very best. It is most powerful when delivered often for their self-independence and effort. Praising employees for their personal contributions to a complex problem, a new idea, or true innovation that can be tied to a business outcome can positively affect their confidence and future performance.
Through these four easy steps, I have made homework manageable. Sure, my son would rather be outside riding his bike, but we are building life-long skills. Managing employees takes the same commitment and investment from a leader. The good news is that employees are not nearly as whiny!