Your Home: a business?
Home management is like running a business. And there’s a lot that can be learned from business managers! Here are 9 strategies from CEOs that you can adapt to help your house look and feel better.
1. Take an objective look at your workload.
CEOs regularly and frequently evaluate their tasks. They look at what they -and all those that report directly to them – are doing, and ask questions.
- Is this person the best person for this job?
- Are they the only one qualified to do it? (And can that be changed?)
- Is there another (better? faster?) way to do this?
- Does this job need to be done at all?
In your home, you can do this as well. If you have a partner, this is something that should be done as a team (moms shouldn’t shoulder the mental load all by themselves unless they have to!) Ask similar questions!
The best place to start changing the atmosphere of your home is to figure out what the workload actually is, and whether or not it’s appropriate for the person doing it.
2. Determine where your contribution is most needed.
CEOs often have pet projects. They do things simply because they enjoy those things. But sometimes, they can get too involved, and end up micromanaging some things, while ignoring others that urgently need their attention.
A good CEO will be able to let go of even a favorite pet project, in order to give their attention to what really needs it.
At home, I know I can sometimes insist on controlling some tasks. I happen to enjoy doing laundry. I find it soothing and calming. (Yes, I know I’m weird..) But I can get so lost in the clothes and the process, that maybe I miss out on the incipient fight between my youngest children, until someone gets hurt. I should have been paying attention to my children, not my chores. My attention wasn’t where it should be.
Is your attention always where it should be? Time to check in!
3. Identify the best people in your organization.
CEOs not only evaluate themselves but their team. They look at the support staff around them — the vice presidents, directors, managers and supervisors that help run the company. They’re looking for who can help and who is ready for more.
Which of the middle managers could be groomed to take on a more senior role? Is there a talent somewhere that could and should be developed in order to take advantage of it?
Good leaders will capitalize on the growth and development of their team. And they’ll create opportunities for further growth, so that the organization as a whole functions better.
As parents and CEOs of our homes, our focus should be the same. Again, if you have a partner, this is a job for both of you.
Are you better at managing money than your partner? Maybe you should be the one to balance the checkbook and set up the budget.
Is your partner better at remembering appointments and being on time? Let them take care of the logistics of getting Johnny to piano and Suzi to soccer.
Which is better at cooking? Does someone enjoy cleaning?
Then look at the other members of your family — children, extended family members, roommates, friends that might be living with you. Figure out who is best suited to certain tasks.
It’s especially important with your children, because as parents, its our job to prepare them for adulthood.
Is Johnny ready to take on doing his own laundry? Can Suzi be trusted with the care of a pet? Maybe your teenager is ready to take on some of the cooking. Or your preschooler can start to take on cleaning his room.
Continually look for who can help out and who is ready for more.
4. Train, coach, empower, trust.
Every leader must do these four things: train, coach, empower and then trust. First leaders train those they are in charge of to do their jobs. Once they know how to do the job, leaders coach them. They encourage and provide the accountability needed. After they’ve taken it on, leaders empower them to grow in it and mature. And finally, leaders have to trust that the job will be done, and done right.
CEOs may not be as emotionally invested as we are in our family. The failure of an employee in a workplace is an annoyance and an inconvenience. But the failure of a child or partner to do what they say they would feels personal.
It’s our home, so it’s understandably harder to let go and empower. We parents, especially, tend to want to micromanage rather than coach.
And sometimes, we can forget about the training that comes first! That leads to unmet expectations, and then everyone gets hurt.
But recognizing our role as leaders in our home can help prevent all those frustrations and hurts, and make everything move smoother.
5. Share your “business” strategy with your “employees”.
For CEOs, this is an obvious thing. It’s hard to get a team going in the same direction unless everyone knows what the goals are. Plans for the entire organization are easier to accomplish when everyone has a clear idea of the big picture. So it’s important for CEOs to clearly communicate their strategy with everyone connected to the business.
In our homes, it can be a bit more challenging. Where businesses will have vision statements and sales goals, homes aren’t made to make profits, generally. So how can you clearly communicate a strategy when you don’t even have one?
The key to family unity is family values.
You probably already have some, even if they aren’t defined. These are those phrases you repeat a lot. Or the behaviours you enforce as right and wrong.
In my home, one of our values is the power of choices. I am always telling my kids to make good choices, to be aware of their choices. And when they have made a mistake, we talk about what choices they have, and how they can make better choices.
Maybe for your family, you value athleticism and sports. You might watch a lot of sports, and have the kids participating in a variety of sports and games. Your idea of “family night” is to get out to the park and play catch. You say things like “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game,” and use sports metaphors in your parenting.
Whatever values you have, hiding them is what creates confusion and damages relationships. Make sure you clearly communicate and express those values!
Homes and Businesses are not exactly the same
Managing a home is obviously not exactly like managing a business. There are relationship dynamics and goals that are not at all a priority in a commercial setting. But there are tools and strategies we can adapt to make our homes and our families run smoother. And that makes for less frustration and a happier home.
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, families needs to keep track of multiple departments (cleaning, cooking, budgeting, shopping, laundry, childcare, etc) and multiple people (parents, children, extended family, outside helpers). So we can adapt the strategies the CEOs use to our homes.
We already talked about 5 strategies. 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.
Now let’s talk about the tools and systems that CEOs use, and how to adapt them to our homes.
4 more strategies from the CEO’s office
6. Develop repeatable processes:
Businesses have guides, handbooks, and training that details everything from how the logo of the company should look to how meetings are run. They have systems in place that make it easy to train new employees. And they have documentation available to every department, so that the look is kept consistent, no matter who’s looking after a project.
We should have the same repeatable processes and documents in our home. We can develop systems for everything from cleaning the bathroom to getting groceries. If everyone knows where to find the information they need, and how to do the tasks, the responsibility — and stress — can be shared equally.
Create a home management binder
One of the best tools to have for your home is a home management
binder. This tool collects and stores all that essential information that keeps a house and family running smoothly.
How detailed your home management binder is depends on each family.
It can be just the emergency information only — medical info such as medications or allergies, financial info like your insurance policy numbers or mortgage/rental agreements, and the contact info for the important people, such as a doctor or lawyer.
Or you might get more detailed, and include a profile for each member of the family, with recent pictures and copies of identification, clothing sizes and favorite colors.
Your home management binder might be part of a family command centre, where you include schedules and calendars too.
You can 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. 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 all the adults in your home, grandparents, siblings and friends to come in and help you out — without causing you extra stress.
7. Focus on results.
This goes back to our tendency to micromanage. Sometimes CEOs — and parents — get too involved in the process (the “how” or method of doing things) and forget about the end result.
But bosses who insist that their employees do things exactly the way he would cause resentment and ultimately drive talented employees away. And parents who insist that children do things exactly the way they would do it may find that those children (and partners!) resist doing anything at all — and may even damage a relationship forever.
If you insist your towels be folded exactly like you do, your children will never voluntarily fold the towels. And this is especially true if you refold them behind their backs. As long as the towels are folded, does it really matter how?
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, he might 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.
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. It’s a poor CEO that blames out-of-line ads 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 daughter to clean the 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 are more willing to help out when needed, when they know their efforts are recognized and welcomed.
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.
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.
Have you made yourself the CEO of your own home?