I’ve been thinking about writing this blog for a while but I wasn’t sure about whether to write something this personal. I was also apprehensive out of concern that this might be misconstrued in an Andrea Leadstrom/Theresa May kind of way.
But here goes anyway.
Huge disclaimer before you read on due to my apprehension. This should not be viewed as me saying ‘being a parent has made me a better HR pro than someone who isn’t a parent’ or ‘Only a parent can have these skills’. Thats rubbish and I don’t think that way. This is about my very own experience and what i’ve noticed in me and me alone.
For those who follow me on Twitter (if you aren’t you should be, @MarkSWHRF – I’ll know if you haven’t followed me!) you will know I have this ‘open book’ policy. I don’t have 1 twitter account for ‘personal’ use and 1 for ‘work’ purposes, I have one account that is a fair representation of me generally. If you follow me you will see a fairly equal distribution of tweets about;- HR, leadership, boxing, movies, music, the West Wing/Aaron Sorkin (the genius), Swansea City FC, miscellaneous and last but certainly not least, my wife and son.
My son, Oscar, is 2 and a half. The old cliche is correct;- he absolutely, has taught me just as much as i’ve taught him. He’s amazing. He blows my mind, every day. Becoming a parent has changed me in many ways, but before I start blubbering like a wreck, i’ll get back to the point.
I’ve noticed that in the last couple of years, since becoming a father, i’ve been able to look at things in a different way. For example, I often can’t display sympathy even if I tried really hard, its just one of those things. It’s not to say i’m unsympathetic, it’s just that I occasionally struggle to display that sympathy. But since becoming a parent, i’ve been able to replace that with a stronger ability to empathise which has undoubtedly allowed me to act more effectively when dealing with that particular situation. I believe this improved ability is because i am empathic of how my son is feeling in accordance with the situations he encounters and i’m now actively and consciously doing the same in my work.
Another way my attitude has changed is with active listening. I truly want to listen more and better understand what i’m being asked or told, rather than what I want to say. Watching how my son has learned from whats going on around him, has made me understand how important it is to really pay attention to what is being asked of me and what is needed of me as the listener.
Finally, I have become more ambitious and I encourage others to be more ambitious, more so when I can see that they aren’t realising their full potential. I want to reach the top of my game in what I do and I want my son to be proud of me, and when I am coaching or guiding others which is a vital part of my role, I want the same for those I am working with so that they can better themselves and be as brilliant as they can be.
I don’t think I used to be like this so much before.
Our life and the experiences we have change us in many different ways, as has been written many times before. So naturally, my attitude towards how I practice HR has been changed by my experiences too. Experiences of those i’ve worked with and learned from. Things i’ve experienced due to situations i’ve found myself in. And bad experiences as well as learning opportunities. So I guess becoming a parent was going to change me in almost every way, including having an impact on my attitude to my work.
I like this change.