As the dining room fills up with boxes marked “College Stuff” I’m continually reminded that my oldest is going away to college soon. She’s not going to be living in our house much longer. She will visit (I hope) often – but she won’t live with us anymore. And, while she is getting ready to move out – my son recently received his driver’s license and now all we see is the back of his head and the back of the car. He’s moving on.
Now what? Our parenting role has gone from a full-time job to a part-time job – or in my daughter’s case – an outsourced job. From now on, we’ll parent via phone and internet more often than not. That leaves a lot of empty time in our “parenting” bucket.
We’re not prepared for this. No one explained that once you’ve done a good job raising your kids that they leave and you’ll be sitting there with nothing to do. Now what? We’re not trained to do nothing. We’re trained to watch over them, correct them, protect them, guide them, counsel them. They’re not here now. What do we do?
When Employees Leave the Nest
Managing employees is similar. As managers we’re given a lot of training on the fundamentals of how to manage our employees. We’re taught how to do performance reviews, how to give constructive feedback, how to engage people, how to help set their objectives and goals. What we’re not trained to do is not do these things.
I remember when I first became a manager, a peer said to me “You are now responsible for your own workload.” Didn’t mean much then. But boy, that chicken is coming home to roost now.
As I think about what I’m going to do now that my kids don’t need me as much, I thought managers have the same issue. Once a manager does a great job getting their team to be pretty much self sufficient – what do they do? If you’ve ever managed a great team you know that the amount of intervention and the amount of guiding, counseling and “parenting” drops off precipitously.
If you’re an HR Pro – ask yourself – “How much training do we give managers on what to do when they don’t have to manage?” I’m guessing not much.
Unfortunately, what typically happens is that managers who have worked hard and have a great team – and now have nothing to do – start doing more of what they used to do. Nature abhors a vacuum and managers will fill that space with micro managing and useless reporting of progress. A sure-fire way to undo all their great work. I’m convinced that many a good manager has fallen due to this simple issue.
Teach managers what to do after they’ve done a good job.
As for me – I’m converting my daughter’s room into a man cave with hot and cold running hors d’oeuvres, a big screen and a garbage chute out the window connected directly to the trash can. I may never come out!
Paul Hebert is Vice President of Individual Performance Strategy at Creative Group Inc, writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on influencing behaviors and driving business results through employees, channel partners and consumers. He is dedicated to creating true emotional connections often overlooked in our automated, tech-enabled world. Using proven motivational theory, behavioral economics and social psychology he has driven extraordinary company performance for his clients. Paul is widely considered an expert on motivation, incentives, and engagement.