I recently read through two lists regarding how to raise children. “Science say parents of successful kids have these 11 things in common” and “How to Raise Happy Kids: 10 Steps Backed by Science.” “Science” was the word that most drew my attention because obviously science implies that these tips are more than just suggestions, they are backed by research.
As I scanned the list I contemplated how many of these could be applied to how we should raise our employees in the workplace. Here are a few of the following traits that parents of successful children have in common.
- They have high expectations. The Pygmalion effect states “that what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Parents who expected more of their kids had children who showed greater success on standardized testing. Could we not expect the same results when expecting more from our employees?
- They have healthy relationships with each other. Children with parents who maintain a great relationship with one another whether intact or divorced fare better than those surrounded by high conflict relationships. Managing our employees in an atmosphere of minimal conflict should produce the same effects.
- They develop a relationship with their kids. Why not reach out to your employees?
- They’re less stressed. Emotional contagion is a psychological phenomenon where feelings spread from one person to another like a cold. Stressed out managers, especially in cube farms common in many office spaces, will spread their stress like the plague.
- They value effort over avoiding failure. I once worked with a company whose owner would frequently say, “Don’t confuse effort with results!” He lost a lot of good employees! Science backs up the suggestion that we should focus on effort. Telling your employees they succeeded because of their effort teaches a “growth” mindset and as a result your workers will accept more challenges and will embrace failure as an opportunity to improve.
Happier kids are more likely to grow into successful adults and so common sense suggests that happy employees too should be more primed for success. Here are a few of the suggestions on how to raise happy kids from the article mentioned above.
- Get happy yourself! As discussed above, feelings spread. As a manager you can choose to spread good will or bad will.
- Teach them to build relationships. Your employees aren’t too old to be taught how to better interact with and encourage one another. Lead by example!
- Expect effort, not perfection. From the book, Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, “Parents who overemphasize achievement are more likely to have kids with high levels of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse compared to other kids.” Depression causes 200 million lost workdays and billions in lost productivity according to the CDC. As noted in the first set of bullet points, focusing on an employee’s efforts allows them to better embrace failure and can reduce depression.
- Teach optimism. Optimists are more successful at work, healthier and have fewer bouts of depression. Teach it and live it!
- Teach emotional intelligence. Read my post “Emotional Intelligence: Why it Trumps all other traits” and you will learn why this is the one trait to rule them all.
- Eat dinner together. Eating dinner together is great for families but while I’m not suggesting you invite your employees to your home for taco Tuesday, joining them at lunch or in the cafeteria if you have one, will help you establish healthier relationships with them.
We place a lot of emphasis on raising successful children but perhaps not enough on raising successful adults. Why not, when our success greatly hinges on the success of the people with whom we spend as much time as our children?