"Get off your phone!"
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How many times have you or your spouse directed that phrase to your children? Between my wife and I, it's possible that my own kids have heard it close to a million times.
I had a big realization one night when I saw our sons, ages 11 and 8 at the time, being consumed by technology, their eyes clouding over and their faces glued to the flashing images on the phone screen. In addition to the challenges that screen time created in getting homework done, it was leading to a lack of communication between the four members of my family.
As a coach for businesses across North America, I am always encouraging leaders to put their people in charge of tough decisions and the management of processes. Pulling from my professional experience, I realized that the situation at home had become one where I needed to practice what I preach.
In an effort to stop technology from taking possession of our sons – but more importantly, to put them in control of their own decision-making process – my wife and I installed new technology rules in our house for weekday use.
Here are three business lessons I learned from our efforts to control the tech madness:
1. Lay the Ground Rules
When the kids get up on Monday morning, their devices are fully charged. The catch? That is the only charge they get all week until the weekend. By limiting the ability to charge, we've turned battery life into a new currency our kids can understand far beyond dollars and cents.
It may seem harsh, but my kids are in complete control of how and when they want to use up their batteries. They can choose to use it all up Monday night – but that will make for a long week with no battery life.
So, what's the business lesson here? Just as we had to be clear at the outset about the expectations for our kids, so business leaders should be clear when delegating control of tasks to team members. Leaders shouldn't mince words or be vague. Instead, they must set clear guidelines and make sure their team members know what is expected of them.
A solid delegation strategy can teach team members responsibility and decision-making skills while positioning them to more quickly rank up within the organization.
2. Provide Incentives
As part of our efforts, we also put in place an incentive program. If the kids do something above and beyond what is expected of them, they can receive bonus charge time, much like an employee might receive a cash bonus.
Incentives also have a place in management – even if they're not cash bonuses. Offering rewards to team members for successfully managing projects can be a big motivator and an excellent method for teaching ongoing responsibility.
Moreover, those project managers can then pass along the incentives to the people on their teams, inspiring a rhythm of reward that keeps everyone feeling appreciated and motivated.
3. Monitor Energy Levels Regularly
When we first started the challenge, my sons were out of battery by Tuesday night. Tears were shed aplenty. But over time, they've begun to understand the rules.
Lesson? Like a smartphone battery, your team members' energy levels can drop more quickly than you're expecting. When delegating management tasks to the team, it's important to not be completely hands-off. To foster talented team members, leaders need to monitor their energy levels – especially when they are taking on added responsibilities. Leaders who can recognize when someone is overworked and alleviate the burden will earn a great deal of respect and motivate team members to do their best.
While it may not be as cut and dry as managing kids' technology usage, delegating management tasks is an essential skill for great leaders. Take control of any madness in your organization and begin delegating to start working on your business, not in it. This is how you inspire hard work and camaraderie among team members.