My baby has no say in the matter, but your employees do
(previously written for a past website)
Five months ago I became a mother. And like most new mothers, I experienced so many emotions in a short period of time: love, joy, frustration, confusion, and the list goes on and on. I kept telling myself that according to all of the books, blogs and forums on the subject, this was just what being a parent was like, and there was nothing one could do about it. Or was there?
I frequently talk about being in the present, keeping the empathy button turned on, and seeing value in every interaction. But after many sleepless nights and no idea what I was doing, it all seemed much easier said than done. Then, in an effort to practice what I preach, I sat down to reflect, and that’s when I discovered something…
My baby had no say in the matter. This little guy would receive whatever love and care I had to give. So I tried to put myself in his place, and it was terrifying. The idea of being unable to communicate exactly what I needed or wanted was scary. It required complete trust to feel safe and cared for, and that needed to be earned through action.
When I tried to imagine the people around me that I would trust to care for me and truly have my best interests in mind, there were family members that made the list, but then something surprised me: one mentor made the list as well. That’s when I realized that the same type of emotions I was feeling (and that I envisioned my son was feeling); I had also felt at some point in a work environment. I began to imagine an organization where I felt cared for, and safe enough to put my future in others hands. I thought back to some not so great work environments where I felt helpless and unable to communicate what I needed. In those situations felt like I never received the tolls and care I required to succeed, and not surprisingly I ended up leaving
My son’s crying suddenly became less frustrating to me and I realized that in some situations he was probably more frustrated than I was, and since I was the one with the power, I needed to be more determined than ever to figure out what he needed to thrive and then provide that to him.
I went from reactive mode to proactive mode and no matter how tired I was it suddenly seemed easier to muster the strength to figure out what he needed in order to get him to smile again.
I believe this should be the same determination each manager applies to their employees; the determination to ensure the success of each team member. Unlike a child, employees have the ability to leave and find another position elsewhere if they are unhappy. So why not help your employees thrive. Sometimes they may not know how to tell you what they need, but if you’re determined you’ll figure it out and what you will end up with is a compassionate and successful environment where everyone smiles.