Help me Walk with Transparency

The 4 Techniques That Helped Me Walk the Fine Line of Work and Single Motherhood

Help me Walk with Transparency
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There’s no such thing as an easy path to entrepreneurship, and being a single mom makes that journey even more difficult. As a franchise business owner and single mother myself, I speak from experience when I say that maintaining a business while raising the ones I love most can be challenging.

Related: 10 Single Mom Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Business Advice

Yet, despite the challenges, my role as single momtrepreneur is one I wear with pride. When you’re surrounded by the two things that excite you most — your kids and your business — every day is a learning experience.

So, if you too are a single mother looking to pursue your dreams as an entrepreneur, here are a few things I did that helped me get to where I am today.

Be transparent with your priorities.

Being disciplined with your time is one of the most important skills a momtrepreneur needs to learn.

Establishing a natural rhythm in alternating your attention among your children, clients and workforce will help you find your footing on the journey.

Entrepreneurship by no means is a 9-to-5 job, but creating a list of priorities and a road map for your day will help you feel less overwhelmed.

It’s also important to recognize your limits. I used to be an overachiever working eight- to 12-hour days for six days a week, and although my business was growing and we were in one of our busiest seasons, I realized that I wasn’t giving the proper amount of attention to my kids. I needed to make a change.  

To adjust, I learned to be transparent with my team about my need (and maybe their need too!) to balance time with my family; and I made sure they understood what times they could and couldn't reach me.

For example, I encourage my team to text and email me any time the need arises, but unless it’s an emergency I may not be able to reply until regular business hours. While it took some time for the team members to adjust, everyone came to understand that life outside of a business is just as important as life inside.

Be crystal clear with your team and lay out some ground rules on when and how you can be reached outside of the office. At the beginning of every week, I bring my team together to identify goals and discuss how we plan to reach them. Creating this outline will help you manage your workload in the office, while also allowing you to plan your day-to-day obligations as a mom.

Don’t suffer alone.

Momtrepreneurs need to understand that there are some instances when things are our hands.

Trying to be perfect at juggling everything around you is the tempting thing to do, but it takes a certain level of bravery to be vulnerable and to ask for help when help is needed.

Whether it’s seeking out assistance from the team you’ve built firsthand or seeking out guidance from your family, understand that it’s the recovery that’s more important than the fall. How you bounce back will shape how you charge ahead further down the road.

Related: This Single Mom Turned Tech Entrepreneur Shares How She Rose Above Self-Doubt

One great way to find help is to form a network of mothers in your neighborhood.

Early on as a parent, I organized a playgroup of more than 30 families, allowing us to get together on a regular basis to socialize and discuss the challenges we faced.

Any kind of network, whether a book club or sports group, is a great way to get people together, so find a way to better connect yourself with those around you.

Use online resources, as well. Whether you turn to a site, which helps you find others with similar interests and hobbies, or an app  2Houses, which helps keep track of your children’s schedules, or to a meditation tool Stop Breathe & Think, find — and use — the tools that can assist with your work and personal life.

Team up with your kids.

Children are very inquisitive, and one of the duties of a parent is to foster that curiosity.

As a momtrepreneur, I’ve realized that one of the best places to nurture my children is right there in my office.

They don’t understand every intricacy of my travel business, but showing them around and even letting them “work” is a great way for me to spend time with my kids while getting things done.

Giving my children assignments in the office is more than simple delegation. My kids sometimes sweep up and keep things tidy, put stamps on envelopes or shred papers that I no longer need. I also take them to community events.

Children can be great ambassadors to a brand. I ask them to help with direct marketing at events and to greet potential customers. And all of these activities allow me to harness my children’s curiosity, giving them a leg up on life while also showing them the working world.

Celebrate every victory.

I used to think that my life would be defined by a few key moments, but I’m learning every day that it’s the little moments with both my kids and my team that I cherish.

Yes, birthdays, graduations and record sales deserve their own celebrations, but I have begun to appreciate and prefer the small moments of human connection, too.

Reading a book to my kids before they fall asleep or helping a family find a cruise destination that’s perfect for them brings me an immense sense of joy and satisfaction.

Moments these are the ones that make my work as a momtrepreneur meaningful, and keep me motivated to continue on this journey.

Related: 5 Fund-raising Lessons From a Startup Founder and Single Mom

Running a business while raising a family is definitely a challenge, but it’s one I look forward to taking every day. I know that every day is an opportunity to become a better person, both as a successful entrepreneur and a loving mother.

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Taking Workplace Transparency To The Next Level

Help me Walk with Transparency

Have you ever wondered what an executive was thinking but were too afraid to ask?

For several weeks now, our CEO David Hassell has filled out a 15Five and shared his responses with the entire team. Yeah, you heard right. My boss submitted a report to his staff, informing us of his goals, triumphs, challenges and ideas.

Why on earth would he do that?

Inspired by Info

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, communication between employees and senior management, and employee relationships with immediate supervisors are two of the most important aspects of employee job satisfaction. Not to mention the mission critical transmission of information (both up and down stream) that keeps our businesses moving in the right direction.

We are comprised of a globally distributed team, so face-time usually means a video call. We also have email and hipchat, plus David regularly responds to our 15Fives. But we don’t have those ad-hoc, non-tech facilitated conversations where you really get a sense of what is going on in someone else’s world — their priorities, challenges, and the aha breakthroughs they’re having.

So, in his first report David answered these three questions:

– What are your wins big or little for this week?

– Are there any obstacles you are facing and can I help?

– What are your top 3 priorities for next week?

I received an email informing me that he had submitted a report. I anticipated being interested in his responses, but I never thought that reading them would make me a better employee.

Trust & Transparency

“Grant trust & be transparent” is one of our 10 core values and in many ways it is the cornerstone of our culture. I will admit that there are times that I have made mistakes and was tempted to just sweep them under the rug. Not only does that now feel I am betraying everyone at the company, but it robs me of the opportunity to learn and grow.

When I read about how my leaders made a decision that didn’t produce the best results,  I am encouraged to be transparent with my own missed opportunities and mistakes. Then I open myself up to all sorts of assistance, support, and resources.

Hey I get it. Many people work in cultures where saying I made a mistake resulted in a tongue-lashing or worse. My own desire to keep mistakes under wraps was heavily influenced by past experiences with this type of command and control management.

Many companies who operate that way also have open-door policies. No one is going to cross that threshold and approach a desk so that they can be lied to, berated, or ignored.

But when a company leader says, “this is where I screwed up”, I am invited to be candid with my own failures.

 This level of trust and workplace transparency allows me to receive the support I need to remedy the situation and learn a better way.

Scoring with Shared Goals

The other side of the trust coin is remaining accountable and holding ourselves and others to their word and their goals.

David rattled off a laundry list of accomplishments for the previous week and priorities for the upcoming one. He survived a crazy overscheduled week and managed to get a variety of tasks knocked out. After reading that I immediately looked at my own performance and thought, impressive, how can I do more next week?

Research conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews of the Dominican University of California, “shows that people who wrote down their goals, shared this information with a friend, and sent weekly updates to that friend were on average 33% more successful in accomplishing their stated goals than those who merely formulated goals.”

I am not a professor of psychology, but I imagine that when a company leader shares their goals and sends a weekly update, that 33% goes up significantly.

Staying In the Know

As a growing lean startup team, everyone moves quickly from one task to the next. Despite all of the other communication technology at our disposal, information sometimes slips through the cracks. 15Fives act as a great catch-all so that issues are quickly resolved and opportunities are not missed.

For example, as content manager I need to know about all of the sites and publications that feature David or our company. By seeing David’s response below, I was able to anticipate his interviews and share them with the rest of our team and our social networks.

(Check out David Hassell’s interviews with The Foundation and with OfficeVibe, or watch the video below.)

High Five!

Who doesn’t a little appreciation from a manager? How about from the CEO, in front of the whole company?

Highlighting strengths increases employee engagement, and fuels productivity and creativity. Efforts that employees considers to be ‘just part of their job’ often have a tremendous impact on others at the company, or push forward various business goals. Acknowledging them reinforces a sense of contribution and boosts team morale.

Managers frequently grapple with how much information to share with employees. That depends on a variety of factors including workplace culture, size, and type of business. Frankly, that’s not my area of expertise.

What I do know is that employees want to relate to their leaders. They want to know that they have a mentor, someone they can look up to and trust. Leaders can keep walls up and maintain a clear separation between themselves and their talent, but honesty and authenticity is the best way to inspire productivity and accountability in employees.

David Mizne, Content Manager at 15Five interviews some of the most brilliant minds in business and reports on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to employee engagement.

15Five is a SaaS company with a powerful and simple solution that gathers critical insights from employees in minutes each week, enabling informed management to get the visibility they need to boost engagement and drive alignment across their entire team.

Image Credit: Matt Reinbold

Employee Feedback With David Hassell From 15Five

How much information do you share with employees? Does it inspire or has it backfired?

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