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How Motherhood Made Us Better Project Managers

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the Mothers out there. At Echo Consulting, we are proud to have so many Mothers on the team. You may be surprised by this but raising children & managing projects in many aspects aren’t that different – you start with hopes & ambitions and plan for how you want to nurture them to achieve that vision. Mothers are often considered the “project managers” of a household as cited in Science Daily “almost 9 in 10 women answered they felt solely responsible for organizing schedules of the family”. Mothers set and communicate expectations, keep the team on task and on schedule, as well as provide stability and guidance in uncertain situations. But how has our experience as Mothers contributed and helped certain project management skillsets grow?

Setting Expectations

     Establishing and communicating expectations is vital for any cohesive project team or family. Setting the limits and expectations at the start is crucial for success. As Mothers know, it can be natural to set expectations for the family prior to any situation whether that’s a trip to the beach, grocery store or daily morning routine. Establishing the expected behavior, who is responsible for what items, timeline etc. For project teams, this important step can often get missed under the assumption that everyone knows their role and responsibility.

Follow-Up

      This can also be said for following up with those expectations and responsibilities. Mothers are often accused of “nagging” – but what happens when items aren’t followed up with? Permission slips and doctor appointments get missed, lunches get left on the counter and homework fails to get completed. The same can be said for projects – each step needs to be followed up with if not communicated that its completed. This can often mean having to be the “bad guy” to assure reports get filed and steps are completed.

Building Buy-In

     Building “buy-in” from resistant team members during projects can be one of the biggest barriers to full adoption and a project’s success. I think we can all agree that toddlers are the most challenging team members to build buy-in from. Have you ever tried convincing a toddler to eat their vegetables or brush their teeth in the morning? This experience can change the way a person approaches communication. Finding out what motivates different individuals and what their goals are and how we can align when communicating to reach shared goals and objectives.

Time Management

     Both parenting and project management require the ability to manage time and priorities seamlessly. To juggle multiple requests, issues, and tasks at once with the ability to prioritize what is most impactful in that moment. It requires a high level of organization to keep track of everything as well as communicate to the team or family.

Stability

     As a parent and project manager it’s important to remain infallible in any situation that may arise. This includes keeping a level head, making sound decisions, and keeping calm for the team. This can requite a lot of self-regulation in situations not wanting to display panicked facial expressions or negativity. Both in parenting and project management, you set the tone and the team looks to you for guidance on how to act.

Building Self-Sufficiency

     At Echo Coaching, we strive to build self-sufficiency not dependency. We want you to be successful long after the project is completed and to do that we focus a lot of energy of workshops and champion development to build that self-sufficiency. The same can be said for parenting, while it’s wonderful being the person to put your child’s shoe on each morning or fix their hair, is there anything better than them obtaining that slice of independence and mastering the task themselves? You achieve that by coaching, talking them through the process, and encouraging independence while remaining on the sidelines for support if needed.

 “Invisible Labor can Negatively Impact Well-Being in Mothers” Science Daily. Posted January 22nd, 2019.  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190122092857.htm