Your Home: a business?
We can often compare managing a home to managing a business. Those that run businesses have developed strategies and techniques that, if applied to a household, can help streamline and calm a busy home. There’s a lot that can be learned from having a business mindset for running your home. 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.
One of the first strategies we can adapt is evaluation. CEOs regularly and frequently re-evaluate their daily tasks. They look at what they are doing and ask questions. Are they the best person to do this job? Are they the only ones qualified (and can that be changed with training)? Is there some other (faster? better?) way that this can be done? Does this have to be done at all?
We at home can also take this approach. Ask yourself similar questions. Am I the only one who can do this, or can I train someone else to do this? Is there another way to do this? Does it have to be done this frequently.. or at all? Figuring out what your workload actually is, and whether or not it’s appropriate is the best place to start when you need to change the atmosphere of your home.
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 yours 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 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. First, check in with your partner (if you have one). 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 … and 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.
A leader’s role is really broken down to these four things. First, we train those we are in charge of for their jobs. Once they know how to do something, we need to coach them in it: encourage and provide that accountability. After they’ve taken it on, we need to empower them to grow in it, and mature. Finally, we need to trust them to get the job done.
This can be harder as parents and spouses than as CEOs. We’re more emotionally invested in the members of our family than we are in the employees of a workplace, so the failure of a child or partner to accomplish a task we entrusted them with feels personal. It’s our home, so it’s harder to let go and empower. We tend to want to micromanage, not coach. And sometimes.. we forget all about the training that might be needed, and just go in with unmet expectations, leading to hurt all around. All of that is avoided, if only we’d remember what it means to be a leader.
5. Share your “business” strategy with your “employees”.
As a CEO, this seems obvious. It’s hard to get a team going in the same direction unless everyone knows what the overarching goals are. Plans for an entire organization work much better when everyone has a clear idea of the big picture. So it’s important for the CEO to share their strategy for the business with all the employees.
In our homes, this is a bit different, and a little more challenging. For one, how do you figure out a strategy for your family anyway? In a business, they have visions and mission statements and sales goals and revenue targets. But homes aren’t made to make profits.
The key here is to create some family values. You probably already have some, if only unspoken. These are the phrases you tend to repeat a lot, and the behaviours you tend to focus on as “right” and “wrong”. Maybe for your family, a value is athleticism, so you watch a lot of sports, the kids play a lot of sports, and your idea of a “family night” is to get out to the park and play catch or ride a bike down a bike trail. You parrot phrases like “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” and “In life, you need to be a good sportsman.” in your parenting and discipline. It doesn’t really matter the values that you have, but whether or not they are clearly communicated and expressed. Hiding them is what creates the confusion and will damage relationships.
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.