There is no I in Parent

I showed this space to an esteemed professor of mine back from my MBA days looking for feedback. “Nice work!” he said “Don’t forget the Dads!”

It’s easy to immerse yourself in a cave in solitude when you are faced with a snowy mountain of new motherhood tops waiting to be conquered. You run the risk of getting so consumed with your personal quest for glory (or survival) that you forget that there’s someone backpacking alongside of you.

Whether it’s a husband or a spouse, chances are you are co-parenting. You are part of a group that’s on a mission: to bring up this new soul in the best possible way. Perhaps you adults have equally divided the labor, and take turns in addressing those spooky middle-of-the-night diapers and feedings. You may have a more ad-hoc approach, and decide on the spot whose energy levels still have it in them to drag yourselves up. Maybe the husband does the grocery shopping while the wife prepares the meals. Or maybe it’s the other way around. How you cooperate in getting things done is not so memorable. It’s the fact that you do learn to cooperate effectively what makes (or breaks) you as a Parent.

Parenting is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to practice functioning as a Team. Yet the road to Teamwork is a bumpy one. Not only do you need a whole new set of KSAs to support your Teamwork efforts, you also need to rev up your game swiftly enough because kid-work just doesn’t wait around. And it can get very messy pretty easily too!Wondering how complex the Teamwork requirements for Parents can get? To sum it up: a lot! But I’m here to back you up, powered by the wonderful field of Human Resource Management.

Photo: J Carter (Pexels)

Back in 1994, M.J. Stevens and M.A. Campion wrote a scientific paper for the Journal of Management titled “The knowledge, skill & ability requirements for teamwork: Implications for Human Resource Management“. I will briefly walk you through the Knowledge, Skills and Ability requirements for Teamwork, and I will let you decide how relevant (and damn useful) they are to modern Parenting.

I. INTERPERSONAL KSAs

A. Conflict Resolution KSAs
A1. The KSA to recognize and encourage desirable, but discourage undesirable Team conflict
A2. The KSA to recognize the type and source of conflict confronting the Team and to implement an appropriate conflict resolution strategy
A3. The KSA to employ an integrative (win-win) negotiation strategy rather that the traditional distributive (win-lose) strategy

B. Collaborative Problem Solving KSAs
B1. The KSA to identify situations requiring participative group problem solving and to utilize the proper degree and type of participation.
B2. The KSA to recognize the obstacles to collaborative group problem solving and implement appropriate corrective actions.

C. Communication KSAs
C1. The KSA to understand communication networks, and to utilize decentralized networks to enhance communication where possible.
C2. The KSA to communicate openly and supportively, that is, to send messages which are: (1) behavior- or event-oriented; (2) congruent; (3) validating; (4) conjunctive; and (5) owned.
C3. The KSA to listen nonevaluatively and to appropriately use active listening techniques.
C4. The KSA to maximize consonance between nonverbal and verbal messages, and to recognize and interpret the nonverbal messages of others.
C5. The KSA to engage in ritual greetings and small talk, and a recognition of their importance.

II. SELF-MANAGEMENT KSAs

D. Goal Setting and Performance Management KSAs
D1. The KSA to help establish specific, challenging, and accepted team goals.
D2. The KSA to monitor, evaluate, and provide feedback on both overall team performance and individual team member performance.

E. Planning and Task Coordination KSAs
E1. The KSA to coordinate and synchronize activities, information, and task interdependencies between team members.
E2. The KSA to help establish task and role expectations of individual team members. and to ensure proper balancing of workload in the team.

Still not convinced? Here’s some actual parent-life proof!

  • Every time you are up to here with the hubby who forgot to refill the diaper bag but decide not to bitch about it because he did the night feeding shift and gave you a chance to sleep an extra couple of hours, you are Discouraging Undesirable Conflict.
  • Every time you are discussing who will need to leave work an hour early to go pick up your sick kid from daycare, you employ Collaborative Problem Solving.
  • Every time you bury your judgmental tone and try to acknowledge and bring forth the emotional elements hidden in your kids narrations about his day at school, you are Actively Listening.
  • Every time you are paying attention to the sleepy cues of the baby to find the right time to put him down for a nap, you are Recognizing and Interpreting Nonverbal Messages.
  • Every time you both discuss how you are going to tweak your weekly schedules so as to make it to that 17:00 vaccination appointment, you are Goal Setting.
  • Every Pediatrician appointment Monitors, Evaluates and Provides Feedback not only on the kid’s overall health and well-being, but also on the support system behind it, aka (you guessed it!) the Parents!
  • Lastly, as we saw in a previous post, every aspect of getting things done for the family requires your undivided care, through Activity Synchronization, Workload Balancing and Unbeatable Planning.

Parents aren’t just asked to combine skills that support and cover for one another. They have the potential to form unbeatable Teams and work on those cultural elements that can provide members with the strongest sense of belonging out there. Family traditions and rituals cultivate an unparalleled feeling of coziness (or hygge, as the Danes would likely call it). Beat that for a value proposition!

So, dear Momma, chances are you know Teamwork like the palm of your hand. Life with your little one(s) offer a dozen (or more) opportunities to practice and refine all those Interpersonal and Self-Management capabilities of yours. And there are days when you struggle, and there are days when you thrive. Still, you relentlessly pursue your quest to form an operate as a part of a Team, striving to make it as effective as it can get.

As for you, dear Recruiter or Hiring Manager, if your job opening at hand needs Teamwork as a core capability, revisit that Mom in your candidate list with a fresh perspective. Whether she is aware of it or not, she’s teamsmart. She is a co-founder of a working Team, and has witnessed both the joys of its functions and the perils of its dysfunctions. And, as she continues to provide for her family environment, she will only be getting better at teaming up, even if you don’t get down to officially training her (but don’t use that as an excuse to avoid training people: that’s just lame!)

Teamwork? You got this!


Featured Photo: Pixabay (Pexels)

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