Everything I need to be a good worker I learned in parenting

(OK – this has almost nothing to do with technology – something I read really irked me)

I use the time on the unbelievably long bus ride home (don’t even get me started about the traffic up here. Only California compares to this mess) to clear out my inbox, type specifications, and catch up on all my magazines. I read The Week, The Economist, Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, DBTA and others. In a recent Business Week series, the editors covered some of the new “leaders” in rescuing businesses. Leaders? I wouldn’t follow these guys to the lunchroom. They were yapping on about how they forced their minions to work 40-hour shifts, cut budgets, yelled at subordinates, and told everyone who was performing that they weren’t good enough. Yikes. And yet it seemed this was the style of every one of the people they interviewed.


Don’t get me wrong – I’m very pro-business. I’ve been too many places where a lot of workers got a free ride, and didn’t earn their money, and I think that’s wrong. I’ve been a manager myself from time to time, and I’ve had to deal with someone who just wasn’t’ working to their potential. On the other hand, in a day when companies aren’t really that loyal to employees, you can’t expect employees to be all that loyal back. A good company needs good people, but the days of yelling bosses should be long gone – and apparently they aren’t. Luckily I haven’t had to face that here at all. Would you work for someone who yelled at you?


OK, that’s the rant part. The reason I read the articles at all was to try and tease out any common traits these people had that made them useful for turning around broken companies. I think the writer of the articles missed it, because I’m sure you don’t save a firm just by yelling and laying people off. I wanted to find what made them successful.


So you and I already know that “doing a good job” is certainly one component of being successful at work. And keeping your technical edge sharp is important as well. But there are other skills you need, such as being able to communicate well.


I’ve found another interesting skill in my career that has helped me: Parenting. It seems that in every role I’ve ever held, from working at the Space Center to my military service, I’ve been able to bring in things I’ve used with my daughter. Patience, Encouragement, listening, leading rather than directing, all these things are useful at home and work. And people actually like you better as well.


I found that most of the people in the Business Week article are divorced or have never been married and had kids. I wonder if there’s any correlation?

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  1. (OK – this has almost nothing to do with technology – something I read really irked me) I use the time

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