Large Family Household Management: Strategies from the CEOs (Part 2)

From the Office of the CEO…

CEOs manage businesses with more than one or two employees. Sometimes, the corporation has thousands of employees, spread across multiple locations and in many different countries. But whether it’s just one office of 10 or multiple offices with hundreds, there are some basic strategies that most CEOs use to manage their workload and their employees.

What does that have to do with running a home? Homes and businesses can (and in a lot of ways, should) be run similarly. Just like a CEO, the homemaker needs to keep track of multiple departments (cleaning, cooking, budgeting, shopping, laundry, childcare, etc) and multiple people (a spouse, children, themselves). We can adapt the strategies the CEOs use to our homes.

Review from Part 1

We already talked about 5 strategies last week. We started by taking an objective look at the work required; determining our part in each job, and where we’re best suited; identifying the best people in our families for each area, who can help out and who is ready for more; training, coaching, empowering and trusting them to get the job done; and sharing our overall strategy, including a vision for our home, so that we develop teamwork.

4 more strategies from the CEO’s office

6. Develop repeatable processes:

One of the best strategies we can adapt for our families is to create systems and routines. A CEO will have guides and handbooks detailing everything from how the logo of the company is to be treated to how contracts are developed to how meetings are run. Having the systems in place makes it easy to train new employees and keeps a consistent look across multiple departments, no matter who’s looking after a project.

It’s the same thing in our homes. We can develop systems for everything from cleaning the bathroom to getting groceries. Creating a guide on how to do the chores, what number to call to get the car oil changed or what size clothing your youngest daughter wears can help your partner, babysitter or even yourself get the information they need when you need it.

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Create a home management binder

A home management binder is an excellent tool to collect and store all the systems and information you need for your home. It can be the just information you need to have in an emergency only: medical info (allergies, medications, serious illnesses, diagnoses, etc), financial info (insurance, mortgage/rental agreement, credit card, etc), contact info for the important people (insurance, doctors, bank, lawyer, etc) and basic identification info for every member of your family (birth certificates, identification numbers, descriptions and recent pictures), or it can be more specific.

Calendar it?

You can also include schedules — such as school calendars with holidays and vacation days, the tournament schedule for your son’s hockey team, or the dates/times/locations for your daughter’s swimming lessons. Maybe you’d like a maintenance schedule for your car, to help keep track of oil changes and routine check ups. A monthly budget or yearly savings plan might come in handy, or maybe a paying-off-debt plan.

Some people include a monthly or weekly calendar, with all the details of their week. Some prefer a chore chart of some kind, to keep track of daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal chores to be done. A meal plan could also be included.  You can create a week’s worth of dinners or a month’s worth of 3 meals a day, depending on how far in advance you want to plan. You could even develop 3 months worth of meal plans and simply rotate, taking all the decision making out of it! Along with your meal plan, you could have inventories of your pantry and freezer, making shopping easy. Just restock when needed!

When you have a guide for all the processes in your home, training children (or housekeepers, nannies, babysitters) becomes easy. It also makes it easier for your spouse, parents, siblings and friends to come in and help you out — without causing you extra stress.

7. Focus on results.

Sometimes CEOs get too involved in the process – the “how” or method of doing things – and begin to micromanage. Homemakers can fall into this trap too. Like a CEO who insists that his employees do things exactly the way he would will cause resentment and ultimately drive talented employees away from his company, a homemaker who insists that housework be done exactly like they would do it will find themselves doing all of it alone.

If you insist that your towels be folded exactly like you do, your children will never fold the towels. And this is especially true if you refold them behind their backs.  If your son proudly shows off his job of cleaning up his room, and all you do is point out the socks peeking out from under the bed or the missed toys in the closet, he’ll not be so willing to clean the next time. There’s a difference between teaching and insisting on perfection in the way things are done as well as what is the result.

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Results matter more

Good CEOs aren’t as worried about how the report is completed, as long as it meets the standards at the end. They don’t care if a director chooses to dress in jeans and t-shirt but is an excellent creative marketer. It’s results that most impact the company’s bottom line.

Here’s another one of those CEO strategies to use in your home.  If you want help doing the dishes, then don’t complain that your daughter will probably take twice as long, soak three towels, her shirt and the floor while she’s doing them.  As long as the dishes are clean (and the floor gets wiped — hey free floor washing too!) and put away, let her do them the way she wants to.  A friend of mine once told me her mother insisted she wash dishes in a certain order.  If she didn’t do it that, the mother would do them over again.  Talk about never wanting to do the dishes again!

If you want help, as long as the result is the same as when you would do it, train them to your standard (no streaks on the windows, pick up *all* the books, etc) then don’t worry if they do it differently than you. Focus on the end result. You’ll get more willing help that way.

8. Follow up without micromanagement.

Good CEOs provide accountability without being nit-picky. They develop the process, focus on the result and follow up to make sure the results are up to expectations. That creative director who dresses casually still needs to make sure his ads and marketing follow company branding guidelines. A poor CEO will blame ads that are out of line on a director’s lack of self-discipline (as evidenced by his appearance) rather than on a lack of training in company protocols.

We parents need to do the same thing with our kids. One of the best strategies we can take is to provide the accountability they need, without standing over them. Sometimes, our trouble comes when we expect our children to do something they haven’t been properly taught to do. If I ask my oldest to clean her bathroom, but I’ve never really explained the steps in cleaning the toilet, I can’t really get mad when she misses things around the bowl.

Follow up on time

Sometimes, the problem is a lack of follow up.  We don’t check for completion or for meeting standards in good time. So the job may have been done properly, then messed up again, and we have no way of knowing. If I get my younger children to clean up their playroom, but don’t look at it for hours, how am I going to know if they did it or not?

Sometimes, though, the problem is simply that they didn’t do the job. Following up in reasonable time will help correct problems before they start with training and expectations. It will also ensure that the jobs we assign actually get accomplished.  It’s about proper follow up, not micromanaging and not leaving without direction completely.

9. Encourage your direct reports.

A CEO who knows their stuff knows that if they want the best from their people, they have to provide encouragement as well as accountability and opportunity to develop. Praise, including compliments, appreciation and acknowledgement go a long way to making good employees better. They will work harder, be more loyal, show more initiative, and be more willing to help out when needed, when they know their efforts are recognized and welcomed.

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This is one of those CEO strategies that can be revolutionary.  Praise, compliments, appreciation and acknowledgement will motivate and encourage your family members to contribute to the household work. If you want your spouse to get on that honey-do list, try recognizing the work they’ve done already. (A simple “thanks honey” is often all that’s needed). Children thrive when their efforts to clean their room or do their chores are praised. And they often will start to do other things voluntarily, because they know it pleases mom.

Learn from the experts in management

Homemakers can learn a lot from CEOs. Just as companies set up their employees for success, parents and homekeepers can set up their homes too. Following the practices of good CEOs can make running a home smoother and more peaceful. Try these 9 strategies and see the improvement in your home.

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