I am on a new adventure. It’s called raising a toddler. I’m assuming any new mom feels at least a little bit of what I’m feeling: Am I doing everything right? Should I be doing more? Is it time to introduce new foods? New forms of discipline? Even a new type of pajamas? The questions are endless, and I’m sure I’ll never have all the answers; but I have decided that there is a part of raising a toddler that feels oddly familiar to me … like I’ve done this before. And it came to me in the middle of the night last night—raising a toddler is eerily similar to the development and nurturing of a healthy corporate culture.
Now, before anyone goes on the defensive and asks how dare I compare employees to toddlers, I’m not implying any potentially derogatory similarities, such as maturity level, the need to “babysit” or proneness to tantrums. It’s really just all about addressing and fulfilling the basic needs of your “audience.”
Just like toddlers, employees respond to structure. Tell them what to expect and then provide it to them. This is how you build trust.
Just like toddlers, employees respond to consequences. Show them that doing the wrong thing can feel yucky. This is how you enforce good behavior and teach respect.
Just like toddlers, employees respond to praise. Make them feel awesome when they do something worthy of an accolade of any size. This is how you encourage pride, confidence and dedication.
Just like toddlers, employees respond to unconditional love. Genuinely care about them and all aspects of their lives. This will make them loyal as they return that love.
And all the general parenting rules apply to employees too…. Don’t hover. Allow them to make their own decisions and mistakes. Always come to their defense—innocent until proven guilty. Keep them busy. Provide a variety of tasks and activities. Set an example—walk the walk. Always be teaching them something. And when they ask you why something is the way it is, never ever say, “Because I said so.”
Okay, okay, I’ll stop drawing parallels now. What it all boils down to is this: nurturing a healthy corporate culture is easy. Just be honest with employees; show them you care; and be sure you are meeting their needs. Always keep their best interest top of mind and you should be fine. Now, if I could just figure out this toddler parenting thing….
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