My Daughter, Lily, is not a girly girl. But, she wanted her mother to take her to get an outfit for the dance which we thought the sentiment was very cute. She was actually going out of her way to impress me.
We made it to the dance and something became kind of clear to me quickly. She hadn’t really dressed up for me. It was kind of a dress up parade for her friends as they were all wearing “dance” outfits. My feelings weren’t really hurt that I was her ride to the dance – but something occured to me.
Roles change. People change. Sometimes right in front of you and those changes can be the hardest to perceive. Last year, Lily needed me more to be her protector and fun-friend at the dance. But, alas, she is getting older. She didn’t need me like that, though she still needed me to be there.
Like all of my trivial moments, there are professional ideas to be derived from the personal observations. As the lives of your co-workers change, so do their lives. And their needs are changing to. But, so are their strengths. Most likely they’ve taken on a new endeavor or new posture.
As a leader, it is my job to take notice of such changes. Perhaps the employee can handle more than they could before. Perhaps they want to challenge themselves more. Your direct reports are probably giving you hints about where their life is taking them.
An optimized leader will take note of how this is effecting their performance. If it is negative, a showing of concern and pointing it out might be all that is needed. If a worker wants more responsibility, give it to him/her. Nothing has to be permanent and you might be mentoring a future leader.
You have to be aware of the changing role that the workplace has in everyone’s life. You aren’t a static character and neither are your co-workers. As we are all learning, an attempt to understand goes a long way towards…. understanding how to get the best out of your workforce.
Thanks for the lesson, Lily!