Does Being A Parent Help You Become A Better Manager?

I spent over an hour this evening in the card aisle at my local drugstore looking for a Hallmark card.

A coworker that I mentor is leaving Microsoft.  I care a lot about the people that I mentor and the people that I manage.  The emotions I develop for them are a combination of a big sister and a mother.  I’ve been told I care too much but it’s the only way I feel I can do this part of my job well…by caring that much.

My friend that is leaving has been working through this decision for a while.  Deciding to leave a job is difficult.  Uncertainty of the unknown.  Fear.  Taking a risk and moving out of your comfort zone.  I wanted to find a way to get her to stay at Microsoft but I knew that a different environment was probably the best thing for her.  As you try to help others in decisions like this, it’s all about helping them through their own thought process.  You don’t have the answers, they do.

As she has wrangled with this decision over the last few weeks, I have found myself shedding quite a few tears on her behalf after I leave those discussions and come home.  As I looked for the right card, no words could capture my feelings and the sentiment I wanted to share with her.  Thank you?  Congratulations?  Words of encouragement?

I’m excited that she will experience something new.  She has only worked at Microsoft.  And it takes a unique set of skills to succeed in such a large organization.  She’s going to a small start up.  I know she will learn more than she could have ever imagined in an environment that Microsoft just can’t provide.  And her confidence is going to grow in ways that I could never help her with.

I wonder if this is how I may feel when I send my own daughter off to college?  I hope that I can find a way to keep in touch with her to see how she’s doing, how she’s growing.  The downside of becoming this invested in people is that it makes it harder to see them move onto their next opportunity.  But I think this is the right way to manage and the right way to mentor people.  You teach them all you can and hope that they can take those lessons with them, and use those skills without you by their side.

To all the people I’ve ever managed, I hope I’ve made a positive impact.  And I couldn’t do it without the mom and big sister within me.

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