I am a mother. It’s taken me a long time to be comfortable saying that at work and spending a lot of my working life in a coaching environment, I have been reflecting on why that is. From my own experiences and those of many of the parents I have worked with, typically, we are trying to prove that we are still the same person and employee we were before parenthood.
But what happens if, instead of trying to be the person we were before, we flipped the narrative and focused instead on some of the great skills that parents use and hone in their life? Skills they have honed away from their colleagues and customers that also give huge benefit to the business and their success as employees?
Here are just three skills that I guarantee your parent employees will be practicing daily outside of work.
1 Focus and prioritisation
Ever had to get a baby to sleep and then run around trying to get stuff done before they wake up? You don’t know how long you might have, so what do you focus on first? The constant choices – shower, sleep, or food? Hoovering or washing? A phone call with a friend or the next episode on Netflix? Whatever it is that’s on your list will likely be competing with about 12 other things. Parenthood gives you a laser-like focus to prioritise, constantly re-evaluate, and take decisive action. Definitely skills that can be useful in the workplace!
2 Comfort with ambiguity
Children of all ages require you to think on your feet and don’t give you much time to do so. They (unfortunately) also don’t come with a training manual to show you how to look after them. A constant learning curve, and just as you think you have worked out what to do, they change, grow, send you back to square one. But you do it, day after day. Suddenly working on an ambiguous, undefined project at work doesn’t feel quite so daunting.
3 Networking and communication
I used to think I hated networking, as I’m sure many of us do. But as with most things in life, the more you practice it the better you get and the easier it becomes. Networking is just talking to people, trying to find common ground, and sharing mutually beneficial information. So when you go to an NCT class, you’re networking. When you go to a baby group, you’re networking. When you start talking to another parent at the nursery drop off, you’re networking. You might just be making small talk, or maybe you’re trying to find your tribe, the people you can relate to, and potentially want to spend more time with. Either way, you will be more considered with your language, thinking about what you say and how you say it. You will flex and adapt your style depending on where you are and who you are talking to. These are fantastic skills to bring back into the workplace when talking to colleagues, customers, suppliers… people.
Instead of parents feeling they need to prove they haven’t changed, let’s embrace those positive changes and harness those well-tested skills at work. We know from our parental transition programmes that the benefits to your employees and your business will pay for themselves – on one of our parental transition programmes 74% of people said they were more likely to stay and continue their career with that organisation as a direct result of the programme. As a result of the support and coaching I have received, I know now I am not just as good as the employee I was before I had children. I am better.
Get in touch to find out more about how we can support you and your working parents, or read more about the fantastic results from our parental returners programmes here.