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Mother Knows Best – 3 tips from Mom on people, projects, and risks

Mother's Day, at least for me, is more than just a chance to buy last-minute flowers or wonder how my mom managed to eat the all-sugar pancakes I burnt made her for breakfast. Mother's Day is more so a chance to think about the love and lessons our mom seems to always have on hand. While we all get older and learn to make decisions for ourselves, it's clear that the advice we got in childhood can easily be carried through to present day, no matter what age we are.

1. Be a Leader by Thinking like a Team Member

Empathize with your team to motivate a positive workforce

Ok, so I wasn't always the greatest kid. Sure, ask my mom and she'll probably tell you otherwise, but what mom wouldn't do that? More often than not my mom got a phone call from a neighbor asking if she was aware her son just got in a fight/destroyed some property/just walked by covered in mud. First, let me say: sorry mom! But inevitably she'd get me cleaned up and then sit with me at the dining room table to talk about what I'd done. Generally speaking, she'd ask “would you like it if” and then cite what I'd done wrong to someone else. This was very effective. When you're a child it's hard to think about the implication of your actions, and in giving me the opportunity to understand why Mr. Thomson was so angry I ran through his garden, I also understood why I should think about other people. Mom gave me a great tip that I've carried my whole life: think about how other people are going to see what you've done. How are they going to understand what you meant when you spoke to them or how the situation you're in appears? In the corporate environment, it's important to keep in mind that nothing is necessarily cut-and-dry. An email can come off as arrogant — a phone conversation as accusatory. Before acting, think about what mom said and apply it to your next steps: what if you were on the receiving end of this call/email? What information would be important to you? How would you feel about the information being provided?

2. Finish Important Projects

The most exciting work  isn't  always the most beneficial work

There are a million things to do as a kid, and sitting down for something as boring as dinner is at the bottom of the fun list. My mom struggled to get my sister and I to the dinner table, and then struggle even more to keep us there long enough to eat! However, eating is very important (as I understand now, it's a requirement for living), and my mom knew getting food into our bellies was one of the most important things for our health and happiness. So let's think of this in the business world: are there times where you have a million things going on and a simple (but important) task just doesn't seem very pressing to complete? Yeah. I'm sure I'm the only one. But think like mom: if you don't get that essential project or task done, what could the consequences be? If you don't run that backup at the end of every week (even though it takes an extra hour out of your Friday afternoon), what could happen? The truth is, there is lots of work we do every day that isn't fun or thrilling, but it's important. Making sure to start and finish that work keeps your business “well fed” and running.

3. Identify, Locate, and Monitor

Keeping risks visible helps reduce costly rework and missed deadlines

Moms know about risk. They are able to identify, process, and mitigate risk faster than almost any automated program out there. Moms are so good at risk management because they can predict what is going to happen before it does (as evidence, please think of every time your mother said “I don't think so” while pulling something dangerous out of your hands). If all IT risk management professionals were as good as my mom was, every project in every company would be completed without any issues. Since this isn't the case, however, we'll have to stick to the tips mom provides about risk.

  • First ““ identify the problems that may occur on the project. Are there variables that make the project unique? Is the project particularly complex or large?
  • Next, locate the resources that are needed to deal with those risks: my mom had band-aids, aspirin, and tweezers in her purse at all times. In business we have backup programs, specialized resources, and disaster recovery plans.
  • Finally, monitor the risks. My mom always had an eye out for my sister and I at parties, and good risk management on projects does the same thing. Make sure your teams track the potential issues in a project and collect metrics to more easily tell when something is coming closer to becoming a danger.

This Mother's Day, remember to thank you mom for everything she's done for you over the years, including the great tips she gave you for business! – Article written by Matthew Kabik

About Richard Wood

Richard Wood has been the publisher of CAI's Accelerating IT Success newsletter since its inception in 2011. A Marketing Major at Cal Poly Pomona he has been working with Computer Aid since 2001. He can be reached at richard_wood@compaid.com

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