You know what? Being a HR Pro isn’t tough, being a Dad/parent is tough! But, sometimes they seem to be very similar jobs.
I was reminded this weekend that many times in life, you want more for your kids/employees, than they might want for themselves. We run into that frequently as HR Pros – you sit through 100’s if not 1000’s, performance management reviews, and in many of those, the conversation is centered around asking the employee -“Well, what do you want out of your career?” The smart ones usually tell you what you want to here, the not-so-smart ones will tell you something totally off the wall – but either way, you end up feeling like you’re doing the parenting!
This weekend I was taught a lesson that I’ve taught many people in my career. The usual scenario is me sitting with an executive or hiring manager, explaining to them – there is nothing we can do to change this employee, if they are not willing to change this for themselves first. Seems simple, right!? We can offer the best tools, the best teachers and mentors, send them away to great conferences – and nothing happens, it’s the same old employee that we had before. We (HR, leadership, etc.) keep trying to change the individual, but the individual hasn’t decided, yet, that they are willing to change – in a nut shell – this is Performance Management – and there is a ton of performance management in Parenting!
For me, this is about wanting to turn one of my sons into something they are either not, or are not yet ready to become. I can yell and push and plead and do everything my Dad probably did to me – but if he hasn’t made up his mind to change, it’s just not going to happen. It’s funny how we all teach and train things that we haven’t really experienced or understand. It’s in our DNA to want more for those we care about most. If you are a great leader/HR Pro and you care about your employees, you innately want them to reach their highest potential – it’s a natural feeling. The hardest part is getting to the point where you understand that no matter how much you want your employee to change for the better – they have to want to change, first, before any step forward will take place. The hardest thing to do as a leader/parent is to wait for this to happen.
So, don’t stop giving them the opportunity – because you don’t know when the light will come on, when the desire to change will take over – it could happen at any time. We set the table, we invite them to eat – then they either come and eat or they don’t. The next day, we set the table again – and again – and again. One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Leo Buscaglia (who is a wonderful writer and teacher), Leo says: “We don’t love to be love in return, we love to love.” As HR Pros/Leaders/Parents – I think Leo has it right – we don’t try and make those we care about better, for something we are going to get in return, we try and make them better (and continue to try) for the simple reason, it’s the right thing to do.
The hard part is we know, we see the potential – usually because, we didn’t reach that potential ourselves, and through that experience, we want to make sure others don’t miss their opportunity. So, we will head back to the gym, a little smarter, a little wiser and, yeah, I’ll probably still yell a little too much…
Reminds me of teaching my kids how to ride a bike. Both of them figured it out when I backed off and promised I would only watch. You have to change your mind, before you can change your behavior.