‘Bring your inner kid to work’ day

There are two little people in our family.

We have a strategy – keep them safe, feed them healthy stuff (mostly!), help them grow and develop to be their best selves

We have expectations of their role – we’re clear on what counts as ‘good’ or ‘unacceptable’ behaviour (be kind, don’t hit!), we ask them to do certain things (like polishing their own school shoes on a Sunday night – a cosy hangover from my memories of my own childhood!) and we try to be consistent with these expectations so they know where they stand

We have performance management – in our house, this constitutes moving from the happy face to the worried face (no teddy when you go to sleep), to the sad face (no teddy all night!!), and we always say sorry if we’ve hurt or upset someone

We have learning & development – often gamified these days – check out Maths Bingo! A big hit with our two!!  But also old fashioned stuff like Guess Who, memory games, jigsaws.

We have rewards and recognition – a ‘thank you’, a ‘well done’, stickers!!  Of course the latter being for the most outstanding achievements!!

And we have motivational techniques – give context, give a good reason why, and if all that fails, bribe with chocolate, cake, TV, iPad (or all of the above!)

And then they go to school and get pretty similar stuff there……

Given all this, I’m ridiculously mindful that we’re bringing them up in a good old hierarchy where you listen to what the ‘more senior’ person says you need to do, and you do it because you’ll be praised and maybe even be given something nice!  And occasionally you test to see how far you can push the boundaries of said senior person – usually pulling back before you reach the point of no return because you don’t really want to be kicked out (btw no need to call social services – there’s no risk of our kids being kicked out for being a bit challenging!!).  I was told a ‘great’ (read ‘awful’) example of this yesterday when I was hearing about someone who’s middle management and very capable but who daren’t do anything without their boss’s say so for fear of ‘getting into trouble’.  A bit of parent-child control going on there – a bit!!  And it happens everywhere.

So to counter this, I try to treat my kids like equals whenever possible – really listening to what they have to say, believing them when they say they don’t like a food (which incidentally they ate loads of last week!), allowing them to influence and negotiate with me (scarily my son is far too good at this and has an amazing ability to show up the flaws in my logic!!), letting them make mistakes to learn from, showing them that grown ups don’t know everything and that it’s fun to learn together.  And I plan to do more of this stuff as they get older in the hope they’re better prepared for the world…….

My mum thinks I’m too liberal with them, that I let them have too much free rein, which of course is a reflection of the fact that us and our parents were brought up in much stricter households than kids are today.

So is it any wonder then that, with a controlled upbringing and in our hierarchical workplaces, people believe they must respect seniority, that they need to look to someone above them to give them direction, purpose, instruction, and that this senior person will tell them what they should learn, when and how.  We’ve already started seeing new attitudes coming into work – people with different expectations of the freedom they should have, of how they can be, of the value they place, or don’t, on seniority.

Timely then that Tom Paisley shared this VT (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qC_T9ePzANg) earlier today to give a glimpse of how education could be in the future…..

A change has begun.

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2 thoughts on “‘Bring your inner kid to work’ day

  1. Excellent post, I’d never given any thought to our first taste of authority and hierarchy being in the home.

    The trend to treat kids more as equals has been going on for a long time. My upbringing was a lot less authoritarian than my parents and my kids upbringing a lot less authoritarian than my own. With that in mind, it’s also not surprising that Gen Y are happy to to question authority and archaic workplace rules that older generations accepted as dogma.

    Also, loved the video, good things are happening.

    • Glad you liked the post David.
      I posted a comment in an HR LinkedIn forum a good few years back, along similar lines, and receievd a number of very agitated responses from people who couldn’t belive I’d dare to suggest that we treat people as children at work. Clearly very lucky people who have nothing but adult-adult relationships in their organisations!
      I wonder what these changes will mean in the future in terms of the value people place on praise / appreciation coming from people other than their boss. Maybe the current need for that is driven by the fact the boss holds the cards for performance appraisals and purse strings for raises! A whole other topic!!

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