Helping working-parent managers lead their teams at work
Lead with empathy and patience
In times like these, be kind and patient. Your employees will appreciate your efforts. And don’t forget to give them the benefit of the doubt and trust their intentions.
Every parent’s situation will look a little different at home. Work with each employee individually to understand how to best accommodate their health, childcare and family needs. Start early, end late, work two hours on/two hours off – find a solution that meets the needs of their family, clients and teams.
Put yourself in their shoes
If you have kids, the challenges facing your employees will sound familiar and you may even feel the same way. If you don’t have kids, try to imagine what your employee is juggling as they adjust to this new working situation. When we can truly understand and feel what someone else is going through from their perspective, it’s easier to find creative solutions to meet their needs.
Ask them how they are doing
Take some time to ask each parent in your team how they are doing. Listen carefully and let the conversation flow naturally – sometimes parents may answer this question in relation to work, while others may use it as a time to tell you how they’re feeling in the wider context.
Put your loved ones ﬁrst
More than ever, children need reassurance and comfort. You are your child’s parent, not a teacher, so start with comfort, the joy of learning, and togetherness, and build your day around those ideas. Play, read or do some fun exercise with your children first thing – this sets a structure for the rest of the day and can help it to run more smoothly.
Plan and prepare workspaces, set routines, and even set some ground rules. The amount of support your child needs will depend on their age and ability. Adjust your plans until you find something that works for you.
Use time strategically
Meals are ideal opportunities for casual learning and conversation. Over breakfast, discuss each person’s plan for the day. It may also be a good time to do some learning together. For example, perhaps you could read a book about science or watch some Horrible Histories together – try to keep learning a fun activity.
Explore your children’s interests
Make mornings for schoolwork and use afternoons for projects, reading or play. If your child does after-school arts, sports or other activities, help them to do something similar at home. Many providers are finding ways to use video chat to continue music and language lessons and other meetings. Think about how children can learn from everyday routines like gardening or baking. And help them keep in touch with friends via Skype, Zoom or FaceTime.
Be kind to yourself and your children
Some days may be more challenging than others. If frustration is building, take a break and do something fun. Turn on some music, go to the park if you can, snuggle in with a book or eat some ice cream together. Expect some ups and downs as you settle in to being home together more. Talk with children about compromise and encourage them to take breaks for time alone.