Treat Your Team Like Your Teens (Let Go)
“Really? Seriously? Treat my team like they are teenagers? Are you out of your mind Amy Katz?” I treat my team like the adults they are — I give them specific directions, make sure everything looks good before it goes past my desk and oversee their progress on long-term projects. That’s what my team wants, and needs…
Please, come along on my train of thought. And know, I’m living the teenage dream right now. My husband and I have 15- and 12-year-old kids who are fiercely independent, incredibly intuitive and have their own way of getting to the end goal. As hard as it is to ‘let go’ I’m learning to do so daily. And it occurred to me, if you treat your team like you treat your teens — and let go — everyone will be better off.
Listen without judgment: Every parenting guru tells you us to listen without judgment. When your son tells you his classmates are skipping class or smoking cigarettes, don’t use this as a ‘teaching moment.’ Sure, you can ask what your son thinks about it, but don’t offer your thoughts unless asked. The more you judge, the less they talk… SAME WITH YOUR TEAM. If you listen to your employees and encourage them to recommend solutions, new product lines, etc and you just listen, they will continue to talk, create and innovate. And who is that good for? You and your business.
Let them fail: When my daughter wasn’t achieving her personal goals in the pool, her coach said, “You learn more through adversity than through success.” YES. Let your team try new things – even if you don’t agree – and let them fail. They will learn more from adversity, work harder and be able to adjust course to find a winning solution.
Let them stay (up) later: OK, I have to admit, I am in bed, lights out at 10 p.m. I’ve tried so hard to stay up until my teens finish their homework so I can say goodnight. But recently I realized this was just not realistic for me to ‘perform’ as the best mom I can be. So I let them stay up and finish their work and I trust them to turn out the lights when they are thru. WHY IS WORK DIFFERENT? If your employees are working on a big project or proposal that does not need your oversight, you don’t have to stay at the office. Trust your team to get the work done and turn off the lights and lock the door. They’ll be thankful that you trust them.
Be a good role model: Your teens watch what you do, and believe it or not, someday they will emulate you. You consistently work to be a kind, nice person who does the right thing so your children will do the same. THINK OF YOUR TEAM AS YOUR TEEN. Work hard. Be respectful to your staff and your customers. Don’t lose your cool and don’t make your voice louder than anyone else. Show your best self and your team will want to do their best as well.
So, are you with me? Teens are like your staff in so many ways; they want trust, respect and freedom to do their thing. The more you let go… the more you get back.
Amy Katz (@amybkatz) is an entrepreneur who has launched, built and sold a range of IT media platforms. As president and CEO of After Nines Inc., she oversees business development, sales and finance for the overall company and ChannelE2E. Read her blogs here.