Parenting as a Management Skill … Huh? (part 6)

Parenting is the ideal litmus test to see if your brilliant ideas as a leader will eventually survive. Goal setting is a great example. Parents know that goal setting only works when the goals are set as a result of a conversation.

Since the beginning of this month school has started. For many families this indicates a moment in time where habits need to be switched and children need to make a step into a next level of development, be it in reading, writing, independent tooth brushing, cleaning up the toys, etc.


A thing that works pretty well with children is the use of a simple scorecard (mostly a board with all the days of the week, some targets and banners to be attached for every succesful achievement). All of a sudden agreements, targets and progress become visual and this seems to be very motivating. However, the thing that really makes this board succesful is the discussion prior to setting up the board: this is where buy-in happens!

For instance, some questions that are commonly covered in those conversations:

  • When do we get a medal for an achievement (i.e.:‘What exactly does good performance look like?‘)
  • What happens when we fail to meet the target (i.e.: ‘What does failure look like?‘)
  • WIIFM: What’s In It For Me when I meet all targets?
  • etc.

That’s how we get to SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Tracable. Although you can find this acronym in any MBA course, the added value of parenting is the insight that CONVERSATION and DIALOGUE is the one and only way to make smart goals. The below drawing outlines what this results into for a work setting:

Next to that, there are actually 3 kinds of KPI’s that work pretty well with kids – provided that they are SMART:

  • Do new things. These KPI’s will measure new things that were not in place before;
  • Do things better. Basically, these KPI’s come down to putting new tagets on existing measures;
  • Stop doing things. These KPI’s measure the fading away of bad habits.


There is no reason what-so-ever to assume that a KPI at work should be more complicated than setting KPI’s with kids. It’s all about making agreements and working out the measurements TOGETHER. Forcing a balanced scorecard upon people and making people adhere to KPI’s that they didn’t buy into – or even understand – is an absolute recipe for disaster.

For people to be motivated, you will need to set goals that have been agreed upon with all parties involved. Finally – once you’ve got it all together – what’s even more important is to set positive targets instead of negative ones. For instance, you may be targeting a less than 2 per cent mistakes on deliveries or a 98 per cent of successful deliveries. They both measure and target exactly the same, but which one will motivate people most to perform?

Related articles:
Parenting as a Management Skill … Huh? (part 5) – May 24th, 2009
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