This is my first post and I have been catching up on Manager Tools.

I am not a manager by choice but started my own company and found out one day that I was a manager or maybe all my jokes got funnier.

I cannot tell you how many times while listening to all the podcasts I said to myself - I have heard those words from my father - a VP at a large public company.

So I got the podcast about "Family First". So I started thinking about family and manager tools. I agree with family first and so maybe did my father but I think I was just another employee.

I have heard mentioned on the podcast that these methods work with your family also. I would describe my relationship with my father as "Professional". It is Christmas time and we are not going to get togethor but we will be following protocol by sending appropriate gifts and Christmas day phone call.

Don't worry I am not going to keep whining about my daddy does not love me but I have kids of my own now and I am wondering about applying Manager Tools methods to my family. It did not work for my father. Was it just him and his implementation? Or any hints on using manager tools at home?

MattJBeckwith's picture
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In one (or more) of the casts on feedback we are reminded that this it is for professional relationships; don't use the model on your spouse.

Having said that, I will openly admit that the feedback model changed my perspective on parenting, as it relates to feedback. I don't use the model, per se, but I do try to encourage good and effective behavior in my kids by describing their behavior, impact and talking with them about future behavior, good or bad.

... plus, as my family likes to tell me, I may be the boss at work, but am home I am very much out-ranked :-)

BBundy's picture

I have also used a scaled down version of the feedback model at home, usually with my children.

Tell them when they do something good, add lots of hugs and good jobs, thumbs up and sometimes cookies, and when they need some correction, tell them what they did wrong and ask them (ages 10,6 and 4) what they could have done different this time. Each child answers differently, but it is forcing them to think. Have seen the oldest one start to implement some of her ideas.

Thought about using it once with the wife, but she has a good swing and was holding a rolling pin... :lol:

ctomasi's picture

I agree with the others here, using a modified feedback model at home is great. It's not as structured, but includes the same major "When you... here's what happens" components.

Another major difference between the feedback model at home and work is home is more acceptable to injecting emotion. At home, it is acceptable to state a consequence as "it makes me feel sad." That's not going to fly with your directs at work. :wink: I may be biased because I have to girls and have my emotional radar tuned on high as they go in to the teen years.

terrih's picture

I think generally one can use the [u]peer[/u] feedback model with a spouse. Probably don't have to be so rigid with the format. For things that don't matter much, using a playful tone can take the edge off.

Like the time I told DH, "Can I share something with you? When you hang your washcloth on the far end of the shower bar, it drips on the toilet paper." I said that with a :lol: in my voice. He said, "Ooh, I'll watch out for that."

(Yes, we have a small, poorly-designed bathroom. :wink:)

Mark's picture
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We do NOT suggest - except in RARE places - that Manager Tools works at home. I would ONLY assume that it does when we suggest that we have specific data to show that it does.

I would certainly want my memory refreshed if there were any areas where we have suggested it translates OTHER than feedback...and to be fair, we haven't ever covered that in any detail to suggest specifics (something we're known for!).

Manager Tools is intended for WORK, for professional situations, for situations where there are issues created by role power.

My kids don't consider me a Manager Tools dad. I'm just a dad.


juliahhavener's picture
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I use some aspects of manager tools at home - feedback specifically. I don't use the model, but rather discuss things with my kids, ask them how they can do things in other ways, push them to think through consequences for themselves.

I don't consider that to be being 'a MT parent'. They are things I've *always* done with my children to encourage them to think for themselves and develop critical thinking skills.

On the other hand, I'm occassionally guilty of overworking. I generally make sure that if I do, the kids know I'm aware of it, and those times are rare enough that I can 'make it up to them' with a movie full of mom-time, an afternoon at the driving range, a round of golf, or a trip to the ice rink. For them it's about the time, not the activity - so I make sure they get that even (or maybe especially) when I'm busy.

WillDuke's picture
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Despite Mark's disclaimer, he shared a couple of very powerful examples of feedback and home life at the San Antonio conference. I won't go into details, but I will say that for me they struck a chord.

Believe it or not I use modified feedback with my 2-year old daughter. I describe behavior and I share results. I skip the permission part, she's a little young, and I don't ask what she can do differently. But I find that this helps her to understand why she shouldn't play around the stove, or pull the cat's tail, or poke the dog in the eye. :)

As for O3s, I wonder what the results of a regular meeting would be. I see no reason coaching wouldn't work, especially with older children.

I recognize I'm talking about children specifically. With my wife I have found over the past 20 years that I'm much more successful if I agree with whatever she wants. She might not be smarter than me, but she is usually right.

Mark's picture
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Let's be clear about context here.

Management is a HIGHLY specialized - one could say articulated - form of relationship. Further, those relationships drive a specialized - let's say Kibuki-esque - form of communication.

[b]Both the relationship and the communication protocols at work and at home are fundamentally different, and perhaps even more importantly are derived from different core principles (anyone care to debate love and fear?)[/b]

Saying that MT works at home is simply FALSE. Saying that the principles of feedback - one light in the firmament - apply is such a different thing that it's like comparing my thumb to a hammer. Sure, my thumb can push in a tack, just like a hammer can...

Generalizations are dangerous when making recommendations to others. One of our core concepts here is built on the belief that most managerial "advice" FAILS precisely because it IS too general. Manager Tools works because it is specific. We'd love to boil it all down...but if you boil down a stew, the stuff at the bottom of the pot is NOT stew.

And it doesn't taste good.

And if you tell someone it's stew and they eat it, you don't taste the misery, they do.

Render unto appropriately.

pneuhardt's picture

I do know one thing:

If I treat my two daughters or my girlfriend the way I treat people at work, I would have two distant children that didn't like spending time with Dad and a former girlfriend.

The only reason that the perceptions that feedback, O3's and coaching work at home is because they are forms of communication that have ROUGH equivalents at home.

Feedback? Yep, I do that both places. But trust me, the hugs I gave last night were far better than "When you actually do your homework when it is assigned, ask for help when you don't understand something and focus on producing your best work, the result is that you make the honor roll instead of having your teachers send notes home from school warning that you are not doing well in school." And I don't think "Yay, we finished the project, group hug!" will go over well at work.

One on ones? Great idea. We call them dates at home though. If I start reviewing goals and accomplishments once a week with the family? Well, see above regarding distant children and former girlfriends. At home, it's time together. It may be conversations about "life topics" but it might also be shoe shopping or a good card game.

Coaching? Yep, I do it all the time. But if you do it at home the way you do it at work? Uhm... distant children, former spouses.

Folks, go rent "Mary Poppins" and watch Mr. Banks in the early parts of the movie. He runs his home EXACTLY the way he runs his bank. Don't be Mr. Banks. It's a lonely way to live. And frankly, I liked the hugs last night after reviewing the report card a lot better than the handshake (if there is even that) at the end of a performance review at work. There just isn't any comparison.

AManagerTool's picture

I disagree completely!

Manager Tools does work at home!

I give my wife advice on how to give feedback to her peers, subordinates and boss all the time and she loves me for it. I am her MT coach! Please note that I am not giving her "feedback" or "using manager tools" on her.

I keep trying to get her to listen to the podcasts because I am not even close to being as good as Mark or Mike but she would rather listen to music. Go figure.

Thanks Mark and Mike for helping me use manager tools at home and making my wife think that I actually know what I am doing at work!

ctomasi's picture

While home feedback and work feedback are not interchangeable, they are not totally dissimilar.

Helping your family understand actions and consequences is the same as at work, albeit the delivery mechanism is different, they are fundamentally the same.

Last night my wife made a comment and asked "I'm not a negative person, am I?" Boy, there's a loaded question. Why not just ask if those pants make you look fat? :-) I told her that there are instances where she can make a negative comment (e.g. cynical comments about someone's driving skills) and the kids pick up on it. She appreciated the feedback and we will both continue to monitor each other on that particular aspect.

To put this in context, we've both been very defensive and perhaps not as sensitive as we should be in situations like this. By thinking through the peer feedback model first, it went very well.

terrih's picture

After reading Mark's comment yesterday, I have come to the following conclusions today:

1. If the top-of-the-line, shiny new tool I just got for Christmas is a hammer, everything looks like a nail;


2. If I've tended to communicate to my spouse & kids in ways that were broken (and ineffective), modified M-T techniques are probably better than what I WAS doing... but that doesn't make them ideal.

tcomeau's picture
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Terri prompted me to add:

One of the most important things about MT is the focus on behavior. Don't tell me about attitude or intention, tell me what the person actually did.

One of the most important things about my relationship with Teela is our focus on intention. Right thinking leads to right action; mastery of the mind and mindfulness leads to understanding; understanding leads to wisdom.

My relationship with my branch is about finding ways to accomplish goals chosen by the Institute. My relationship with Teela is much more about letting her choose the "right" goals for herself.

The focus of the relationships are too different for what I do at work to be very effective at home. I'd be concerned if MT did work at home, for fear that said something unfortunate about the relationship.

Tom Comeau
Teela's Dad

US41's picture

I think we should narrow the scope of what we mean when we say "MT works at home."

[b]Peer feedback[/b] works at home in that identifying behavior, rather than conclusions, and then reporting on the positive outcome of those behaviors, can be a good thing at home.

[b]Feedback[/b] works with kids in that you get their attention, call out their behavior (I see you) and ask them to own the next steps, "Hey son, look at me for a second. I want to tell you something. When you hit Billy, that was uncool. What do you need to do to make it right?"

[b]O3's[/b] work at home in that if you and your spouse are incredibly busy, and you schedule some time to do 15 minutes for you, 15 for me, and both agree to it, that it can really help with communication - daily - not weekly. Kids like 5 minutes for them and 30 secs for you. :) Unstructured, of course without notes.

[b]Coaching[/b] works at home with your kids, "So, you want to learn to hit a baseball, huh? Let's brainstorm some ways to do that." I don't think follow up works so well or measuring success.

So, I would say the Mgt Trinity are applicable in relationships at home.

Likewise, the Trinity work pretty good for teachers and coaches, as they provide ways to call out behavior and coach people to do better while staying in touch with those they are responsible to.

I think some other elements are pretty good advice. [b]Delegation[/b] works well for giving out chores to children. "Son, I need your help. I need the trash taken to the curb. You are the best man for the job because Daddy is tired and needs to go rub Mommy's shoulders. You're big and strong and can get it done. Can you do that for me? Need me to do anything to get you going?"

I can easily see where some of the MT behaviors recommended in the workplace could, by someone who was using them for evil, insisting they receive those behaviors, or someone who was overly scripted in their approach, could quickly lead to divorce and being cast out of the tribe. I would say approach with great caution, and don't let the MT ideas get in the way of loving parenting and supporting your spouse.

I remember Mark said a year and a half ago, "It's a tool, and like any tool, it can be used for evil or for good."

Warning: We've been handed a magic wand. With it, we can protect or destroy our relationships fairly quickly and easily.

WillDuke's picture
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It's all all about people. But there's a power dynamic at work that isn't (or at least shouldn't be) replicated at home. I think an effective manager knows how to wield their managerial power to his/her advantage at work. An effective spouse knows to not involve a power dynamic. An effective parent recognizes a different kind of power dynamic with his/her children.

Taking any tool wholesale without regard to this dynamic would be a recipe for disaster. Imagine your boss treating you the same way you treat your children? Not cool. Imagine the chaos if work relationships relied on the same democracy as your spouse/SO dynamic. Ugh!

In all cases, it's all about people. MT gives us great tools to work with people. But these tools have been primarily designed to work for a manager who has the neon sign on his/her forehead. I guess we just need to be careful to not see everyone else in our lives as nails waiting to get hammered. :)

US41's picture

[quote]But there's a power dynamic at work that isn't (or at least shouldn't be) replicated at home.[/quote]

Color me cynical, but I have never visited or heard of a home that did not have a power dynamic.

You better believe my son sees me coming and sees a neon sign on my forehead. I have the ability to ruin his addiction to junk food, freedom, TV, and playstation. My spouse sees me coming and able to damage her addiction to expensive shelter, expensive food, and expensive clothing if I throw in the towel and become a beach bum.

I think tools like this are great because they make the high-D's and high-C's think about their relationships and pay more attention to how they act toward others. I don't like to think about relationships. If I didn't make myself do it, I wouldn't even acknowledge that I have any. I might even possibly go through life ticking off my to-do list and interact with the person I needed something from at the time and then never again until the next need arose.

...Which is why my career sucked motor oil into the air filter for so long. For people like me, some of this stuff helps in the home too, Mark's disclaimer notwithstanding, if applied with caution.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

This is beginning to remind me somewhat of [url=]Transactional Analysis[/url], the Parent/Adult/Child.


pneuhardt's picture

Why do I sense Mark's head about to explode?

Mark's picture
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Mark has left the building. :D


pneuhardt's picture