In a meeting with a client today regarding employee engagement, the subject of what separates a ‘high performing’ individual from other employees came up. Once upon a time the definition of ‘high performer’ was someone who had advanced knowledge of the job and who constantly exceeded expectations around their ‘to do’ list.
Fast forward to today, the definition is something completely different – to be engaged, to know how to problem solve, to take initiative and to roll up your sleeves and pitch in even if its for someone else’s job – are the new success factors, to name a few.
I wonder if the change in definition is because we’ve progressed to really understand that EI (emotional intelligence) is more important that IQ (intelligence quotient); or is it that we’ve become increasingly aware of the gap between how young employees are showing up and performing at work and where we need them to be.
I spend much of my time with clients, coaching and advising managers and executives on how to ‘teach’ their employees the skills listed above. And in doing so I’m struck with how many of these things are behaviors and values that can be instilled and learned at home and are elemental in achieving success at work.
In our many conversations with parents regarding their child’s ’ role in the household, we hear stories of the conflict they have surrounding their expectations of ‘participation’ at home. I will say it until my dying day, (probably ad- nauseum to my kids), “the first team your child will ever be a part of is your family unit”.
I encourage you to really let that settle in deep. “The first team your child will ever be part of is your family unit”.
By being asked and required to participate, children learn critical information.
- What’s the difference between an ‘ok’ job and a terrific one?
- What does it feel like to share the burden and work together?
- What’s the result of doing something that needs to be done, and to do it without asking?
- What happens when you do more than you were asked to do?
I understand the struggles and the reasons ‘why’ we hestitate to have these expectations. I find myself thinking ‘I could do this faster myself’; ‘my child has too many things to juggle (school, extracurricular etc.) without having to help out around the house’. And the list goes on.
And yet, I challenge you (and myself) with this thought. Everything I listed, is real life, right? Your child is going to leave home, and sometimes, overnight, go from doing only what they ‘need to do’ , to doing it all. Life is one big chaotic multitask. They will have to juggle work and school and ‘life’. If they’ve never had the chance to learn to do so when its ‘easy’ and with the support and guidance of their family, then consider the learning curve when it suddenly gets complicated and they are without that physical support.
Encourage and expect your kids to be a relied upon member of the family. What you do now, has a direct connection to the experience they will ‘give’ and the one they will ‘receive’ one day, at work.
Some things to consider
- What are the regular household chores that you can expect your child (age dependent) to do?
- What expectation do you have about how they ‘do’ that chore?
- What opportunity are you taking to teach your child, life skills: to vacuum, to dust, to do laundry, to cook.
- What is your expectation around finances? At what point do you create accountability with your child to ‘pay’ for things so they learn the value of work and money; even simple things like buying a packet of gum.
- When do you expect them to get a job?
The earlier your children learn, the more time they have to practice. The more they practice, the more successful they feel and the more prepared they are for life. The more prepared they are, the more interesting they are to their one day employer, who is looking for…
An employee who can:
- problem solve
- take initiative
- roll up their sleeves and pitch in even if its for someone else’s job; and
- appreciate the job of the lowest employee in the building (like the janitor), because they’ve done it themselves at some point in time.
Everyone plays a role. It’s what makes the system: family, community, social, and organizational, work.
What role are the people in your family playing?