How Parenting Makes You a Better Manager

Blossom was taking Avery home from school on a Monday when Avery surprised her. “Mommy, the form to participate in the talent show is due Friday.”

Blossom said, “Okay.”

Blossom took Avery home Tuesday, and Avery spoke up again. “Mommy, have you filled out the form, so I can participate in the talent show? It is due Friday.”

This time Blossom said, “What do you want to do?”


Our five year old daughter had decided she was going to be a singer.

Avery always loved music from the time she was little. In fact one of my earliest memories with Avery is singing “Do-Re-Mi” to her to keep her from crying.

Now Avery says, “Daddy you’re pitchy,” when I sing.

Related Post: The Ten Advantages of Working With Mentors

You know what they say about talent skipping a generation? Well, I hope that’s true with Avery because I have limited musical talent. I can play guitar like Eric Clapton…in my dreams. Sadly, the reality is a little different.

I think Avery’s musical talent comes mostly from Blossom’s family. Blossom’s dad, Dan, plays guitar and piano, and Blossom’s mom, Millette, plays the piano and marimba. Blossom plays piano too.

Me? It’s three chords and a cloud of dust!

Blossom says I can take credit for Avery’s volume.

Well, being loud is something. At least I am contributing.

We never forced Avery to sing, and we never pushed her.

Avery pursued music on her own.

So, what does bringing up my daughter have to do with management?

Being a parent teaches you restraint and the power of mentorship:

  • Great managers hire fantastic employees, and then they let their employees fly.
  • Great managers then function more as mentors providing guidance and course correction when needed.
  • Great managers let their employees fail - not enough so they hurt themselves, but enough so the employee learns from the experience.

Think about your own experience as a manager or being managed.

You have lost the war when you actually have to “manage” or worse yet, “micromanage” an employee:

  • Superstar employees don’t need to be micromanaged.
  • Superstar employees need support and guidance.
  • Superstar employees need room to grow.
  • Superstar employees get frustrated and eventually quit if they are micromanaged.

Micromanagement is necessary, but not with superstar employees:

  • Mediocre and poor employees require considerable hands on management and micromanagement.
  • Mediocre and poor employees require a significant amount of your time, meaning they distract you from being able to focus on other work.
  • Mediocre and poor employees don’t take initiative and don’t want to be mentored. They may think they do, but they really don’t.
  • Mediocre and poor employees are the ones that need to be pushed; it’s a telltale sign they are mediocre.

Related Post: Is Micromanagement Really Bad?

The answer is obvious and simple enough:

Great management is about hiring great people!

Here are my four criteria to hiring great people. These criteria fit regardless of the area you are hiring people for. They are:

1      Integrity. Need we go any further? Why would you ever hire someone if they don’t have integrity? Actually, I think we do need to go a little further. Everyone – everyone – is occasionally faced with the dilemma that arises when you're interviewing a clearly talented individual who seems a bit ethically iffy. Don't hire them. Ever. No amount of ability makes up for a lack of integrity.

2      Smart. We want people that are very smart. Who doesn’t, right? Well, it's surprising how often I see people who only hire those who clearly aren't as smart as they are. Don't be intimidated by those who might have something you don't. Be grateful you can add them to your team.

3      Passion. I don’t care how smart a potential employee is, and how much integrity they have. They will not work out if they are not passionate about what they do. They also won't work out if they're not passionate about what you do. When I interview, I always look for people who are committed enough to my cause to have done their research and found out as much as possible about my company.

4      Company fit. People frequently overlook the importance of cultural fit. Desiring cultural fit does not mean that we want people that are clones of each other. Diversity is vital, but diverse employees better mesh well with each other. Throw a bunch of diverse ingredients that don't go together into a pot, and you have a horrible meal. Throw the right stuff into that pot, and you've got gourmet cuisine. Aim for a five-star group of employees.

I have ended up with a problem employee that I needed to micromanage EVERY SINGLE TIME I strayed from my own criteria:

  • The brilliant design engineer we hired who quit with no notice. We knew his ethics were iffy and we paid the price.
  • The sales executive we hired who lied on his resume. That one is squarely on me. I knew something was wrong, and I knew he wasn’t a good cultural fit. I choose to ignore my gut. Oops.
  • The person we hired when we needed to fill a slot. We knew he wasn’t that smart. It’s no surprise that didn’t work out.
  • The founder who was a perfect fit for the company. The only problem was he just couldn’t motivate himself anymore. My fault again.

I’ve fortunately made more good hires than bad ones.

The lesson remains the same.

Remember: your team has to work with not only your good hires, but your bad hires too! And your best team members will not stick around if you keep making bad decisions.

Back to Avery.

It’s now six years since her debut performance.

Countless school plays, Peninsula Youth Theatre, and Los Altos Youth Theatre productions have come and gone.

Sunday night, May 17 was the penultimate for Blossom, Avery, and me. Avery got to perform with a live band of professional musicians.

The show was at Angelica’s in Redwood City.

I saw the rehearsal with the live band, and I was overwhelmed with pride.



That’s Avery on the far right.

Avery had been practicing and rehearsing for weeks, and she looked ready to go.

But Sunday night blew me away.

Avery killed it!

More important than killing it, Avery had a blast.

You could see the happiness in her eyes.

That night Avery was brushing her teeth and getting ready for bed. Suddenly Avery started crying.

Blossom asked Avery, “Are you Okay?”

Avery said, “I’m just so proud of myself.”

We are so proud of you too Avery!

#ProudParents #SheKilledIt #AveryFanClub

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