Sometimes being a manager is like being a parent. You need to be patient yet firm, you need to enable your employees to do their job, and you need to praise their work without overdoing it. Here are five parenting books recommended by parenting experts and business coaches that can help you to be a better manager as well as a better parent.
Just as parenting should be about the parent and not about the kid, workplace leadership needs to be about the boss, not about the employee, says Elaine Taylor-Klaus, parent coach and cofounder of ImpactADHD. Screamfree Parenting teaches managers how to take responsibility for their actions, hold themselves accountable, and recognize that there are many ways to “scream” without any raised voices, Taylor-Klaus says.
Managers should pay attention to how they interact with their employees. For instance, she says, if an employee isn’t doing what you’ve asked, you need to make sure that you created an environment that allows them to work effectively, and that you are communicating with them clearly and giving them the support they need without micromanaging them. “Micromanaging managers and helicoptering parents are the same thing in different environments,” Taylor-Klaus says.
Anyone who manages millennials will find this book useful, says Tom Moran, CEO of Addison Group. Millennials want to take on responsibility without being micromanaged, Moran says, yet they seek constant feedback and recognition for their work. This book explains the risks of giving too much praise to a child, Moran says, and the same is true for employees. “Finding a balance between encouraging your team and rewarding their hard work with praise while avoiding fostering entitlement will allow you to build a solid team,” Moran says.
Managers who follow two principals from this book—never do anything for your kids that they can do for themselves, and stop overtalking—will be more effective at work, says Mindy Mackenzie, founder and principal of MM Enterprises, Inc., a firm that advises CEOS and c-suite executives. Show your employees how to frame an executive presentation or lead a meeting only once, and then expect them to do it themselves.
“You can always provide support, but doing their job for them is a recipe for overwork and resentment for the manager, and lack of confidence and growth for the employee,” Mackenzie says. Clearly communicate deliverables, allow clarifying questions, and then get out of your employee’s way. Don’t overexplain, she says. Instead, listen, respond, and allow your employee to get the work done.
Managers get the best results when they coach, support, encourage, and challenge their employees, says Mikaela Kiner, founder and CEO of UniquelyHR. The best way for an employee to learn is to allow for natural consequences. For instance, if a child forgets to pack their lunch, they will learn more from experiencing the outcome of forgetting their lunch than from being scolded. Similarly, managers should find times when it is safe to let their employees experiment, take risks, and occasionally fail, says Kiner, because that is how employees learn.
Positive Discipline also explains the difference between praise and encouragement, says parenting expert Erin Royer-Asrilant, founder of Your Village, a parenting resource. Praise focuses on an external reward and the approval of others, she says, while encouragement focuses on inspiring and stimulating proper behavior. Praise creates a dependency on others, she says, leaving the manager in the position to constantly check in and approve work, while encouragement builds self-confidence and self-reliance in an employee.
Managers looking for guidance on what do when their employee fails despite having set clear work expectations will benefit from this book. Ultimately, as parents and as managers, we have to let our charges learn from their mistakes, says Danielle Beauparlant Moser, managing partner at Blended Learning Team LLC. If there are natural consequences, they will learn from that experience. But if there aren’t any penalties, as a manager or as a parent, it’s your job to set fair and proportional consequences, says Moser. For instance, if an employee fails to deliver a report on time, the manager has the right to impose check-ins on the next project to make sure the employee is on track before the deadline. “The intention isn’t to be punitive,” says Moser, “but to help ensure everyone’s success.” And if you’ve done your job as a manager well (debriefed the experience, reviewed lessons learned, mapped out a strategy for success), she says, then your employee will emerge from the experience of having learned from their mistakes.
Lisa Rabasca Roepe writes about women in the workplace, parenting, and food and drink. Her articles have appeared in Daily Worth, Men’s Journal, Eater, SheKnows, and Yahoo Parenting.