The past three days, I have walked you though different elements including: How Moms are An Untapped Marketing Resource, How the relationship can be a Win / Win for All Concerned, and how it is important to understand the uniqueness of being a Mom and that it's important to help them with A Balancing Act / Releasing the Guilt.
The final blog of this four part series, Leveraging The Talents of Moms, is about Flexibility and Support - what can be done to help Moms get themselves out into the workplace and what employers can do to help them become the best employees they can be.
So, to wrap up this series and blend all the ideas together, it is important to understand and apply the most important concept of all - Moms need flexibility and support.
For Business Owners:
As I have spoken about in the past couple days, life as a Mom is complicated - more so than the average "non-Mom". Rather than just caring for themselves, Moms are always caring and nurturing others - at a minimum, they are caring for their child(ren) and often their husband.
They give and give, and quite often get little in return.
Let's face it, as I spoke about in part three, you, as a business owner / employer play second fiddle to Mom's first priority - her kids. But that doesn't mean that she can't give you as much if not more than anyone else. In fact, I have found it is exactly her commitment to her children that makes her such a wonderful asset to any business.
However, there is a cost. That cost is that you should build into your business model flexibility and support for the Moms on your staff - and the returns you gather from it will be amazing.
What does this mean:
- Plan ahead - This applies with just about any employee, but more so with Moms. Their life is very hectic and time is limited. In fact, I haven't met a Mom yet that wouldn't love to slow down the earth's rotation enough to get them 2 more hours every day. This means that the more time you can give them when there are changes to their schedule or you need more time from them, the better. It's not to say they can't or won't support you, its just that while you and I might be able to stay late to finish a very important project, Moms have someone that needs to be picked up or attended to. It's just not that easy to flex.
- Give them the ability to work from home - If you can manage it, giving a Mom time to work from home, can be the greatest gift you can give them. Even, if they might still need to get a babysitter, just knowing they are close to their children, gives them a strong feeling of strength and power. And that gives them focus to perform at a whole other level for you.
- Be understanding when they can't get in - Let's face it, kids get sick far more often than adults - and 99% of the time, the person who is going to stay home with their kids is Dr. Mom. This goes back to the statement above - give them the ability to work from home, empower them and they will surprise you with their commitment. It's not every employer that is so understanding of their situation - they will do everything they can to make it work and not blow your trust.
- Sit down with them at least bi-weekly to discuss how things are working - This isn't just something you should do with your Moms on staff - but with all your employees. It's just good management. Get to know the situation and work together to solve issues that are preventing them. A lesson I learned a long time ago, as a Ensign in the Navy, is that a manager's job is to remove the barriers preventing their employees from being able to do their best work. No where does this hold true more so than with Moms in the workplace. But as I've said before, the pay off is amazing.
Having tools or systems that help you balance your life is key. In fact, it's key to anything in life - finding ways to remain able to consistently deliver, even in the face of adversity and / or "unexpected" situations - which is daily in the life of all the Moms I know.
Sure, when the kids wake up on time, get dressed, eat and make the bus on time, everything is grand. But how often do things go "as planned" with kids involved. Someone always has a belly ache, has peanut butter in their hair, needs their diaper changed, or is just crying, just when you are on your last nerve. It's Murphy's Law. And you KNOW you can count on it.
So, what can you do? How do you live your life spontaneously (as so many of us love to do), but still make sure that you are able to deliver on promises - the essence of both being a Mom, a Wife, an Employee, a Business Owner, and a Woman?
You stop trying to live your life trying to manage the time in your days. Instead you need to start managing your life around your priorities, day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month, etc. And that starts with first understanding and writing down the priorities in your life - what matters to you today and where you want to be 1 yr, 5 yrs, 10 yrs and for the rest of your life.
Call it a Personal Vision, a Vision Board, a Mission Statement, I don't care. In truth it doesn't matter what you call it - so long as you have one.
Once you have a Vision to guide you, it's time to figure out goals to support that vision. Goals that will drive your actions each and every day, instead of just running from crisis to crisis.
Your goals need to be built with the realization that it isn't HUGE short term goals that make a difference in your life - as much as we want it to be. But instead, it's long term, lifestyle goals that enable and encourage you to take small steps, every day to create lasting change in your life.
Too often, Moms (as well as everyone else out there) take on way TOO much when they try to change their lives - or get back the ones they use to have. Summer is coming up, and they want to get back into a bikini to sit by the pool. Their two year is learning to potty train - and they see a great window of opportunity. And they decide to take on a part time job in the afternoon for a friend to help their store.
So they change their diet, begin the arduous process of potty training a toddler and go back to work all at the same time - all while still being a stay-at-home Mom, managing the household and trying to be a good wife.
Something has got to give, and if you don't think about it ahead of time, it won't be want you want it to be. It will most likely be everything at once.
It's not that you can't do all these things, its just that you can't do them all EVERY DAY. You have to plan out change if you really want it to hold. And if you really want the change to be permanent, the key isn't doing it all at once, but instead working into one step at a time - making sure that each step you take is one step forward, and not two steps back.
This isn't easy - because if you don't stay grounded, you WILL try to run forward as fast as you can at some point - putting short term wants ahead of long term goals. It takes patience and consistency. It takes daily commitment to the long term and integrity. But, in my opinion what it takes more than anything is someone, an outside objective observer, who is committed to your goals and your system, even when you feel like giving up. It takes an accountability partner who will how you to your word and keep you moving forward, even when you don't feel like you can anymore.
It doesn't matter who you find, but find someone that you can talk to every day . . . that won't judge you. Won't get emotional about your situation. Won't let you make excuses. But . . . will stand beside you and help you, when you need it most and do so because he / she is committed to you and your goals as much if not more than you are.
Find yourself a coach / mentor / guide that no matter what . . . will be there every day, keeping you on track and moving forward.
Bottom line, for both employers and Moms, there is a symbiotic relationship that can exist here - one that will benefit EVERYONE. It can be a relationship that can and will make a difference in both of your lives as well as the business. But it takes flexibility and support - and real commitment. And you either need to find a way to support each other, working dynamically to work towards and achieve both of your goals, or find someone who can help you both do just that.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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