Parenting as a Management Skill … Huh? (part 5)

We don’t need to attend the courses of prestigious business schools in order to discover the essence of change management. If you are a parent, go home and observe yourself managing the resistance of your kids.

In addition to the articles on parenting as a management skill that I posted in February 2009, there is one more insight I’d like to add. I found out that the epicenter of organizational change management is hidden in the simple mechanism of cause-and-effect. The way I discovered this was by being home between television time and dinner time on an average working day.

When I ask my 3-year-old son to stop watching television and to come to the dinner table, I’m most likely to receive a ‘No!’ and when I persist in my plan, tears and other forms of ‘Resistance’ will follow for the next ten minutes or so.

However, when I get involved in his frame of reference, I tell him that the television will be shut down when the clock turns seven or when the episode he is watching ends. I can also tell him he can count to three – instead of me doing the counting –  before we turn off the television, etc. It’s a game he gladly participates in; running to the dinner table – eager to start dinner.

What happened here? In the first situation I would be using my parental authority to reinforce an action. This likely results in ‘Revenge’, ‘Regret’ or ‘Rescue’. In the second scenario I am using a different approach: instead of pushing harder I take one step back – BUT I STICK TO THE OBJECTIVE, i.e. television off and on to the dinner table.

By stepping back I inverse the cause-and-effect relationship: I let him be the cause instead of the effect of the situation. This is more likely to result in a ‘Responsible‘ response: I give him the opportunity or the ‘ability‘ to ‘respond‘ positively to my request.

The same is true for organizational change efforts. The point is that you can achieve most of the goals by underscoring the objectives, stepping back and then leaving people the opportunity to become involved in the solution. Instead of pushing harder straight on to ‘Resistance’ you are stepping back and allowing ‘Relationship’ and ‘Respect’. It doesn’t cost  you more time, money or resources. It only requires you to stop treating people as change objects and start treating them as change subjects.

I bet one can’t learn that lesson as profoundly and deeply at Harvard or Wharton as the way I did between the TV set and the dinner table.

Related articles:
Parenting as a Management Skill … Huh? (part 4) – March 1st, 2009
Parenting as a Management Skill … Huh? (part 3) – February 21st, 2009
Parenting as a Management Skill … Huh? (part 2) – February 16th, 2009
Parenting as a Management Skill … Huh? (part 1) – February 9th, 2009