Aaron Grossman, CEO
It hit me like a brick. It was a few months ago, and my 12-year-old daughter was asked to wash her dirty clothes. She actually was asked for the third time in a month, and her answer was she will do it later. That TBD date never came, and I was left with a dilemma. See, I had bought her and a few friends concert tickets. I had purchased these tickets a couple of months in advance. I never imagined this scenario when I bought the tickets. I mean, what kid doesn’t do what they are told?
My wife was super frustrated. My daughter has a strong personality and she is the type of person that wants what she wants, and usually gets what she wants. Around this time, I had introduced accountability as an “official” pillar to my company’s culture. I believe that in my business, it is very important to provide transparency around everything we do, so I wanted to create an expectation that our staff should be accountable for their own results.
So, here I am finding ways to educate, reinforce and push the adoption of accountability to full-grown adults, and at the same time, I was perplexed as to what to do with my 12-year-old daughter. Now, in business, when someone has given expectations and those expectations are not met, the consequences could result in termination of employment. Well, I am not going to fire my daughter, but why would I treat her any different? She was told multiple times what the expectation was, yet she made a choice not to execute on the expectation.
This was my a-ha moment. I realized I could help my daughter in her life if I started teaching her about accountability NOW. If she could learn the true meaning of accountability at the age of 12, she could work towards being more accountable as an adult, and, therefore, be a better employee in the future. As soon as I created this perspective, it made it SO MUCH EASIER to provide a pretty dramatic consequence for her…NO CONCERT! Although it killed me to deliver the news, I felt empowered and obligated to do it. It cost me money for the tickets to go unused, but the life lesson I taught my daughter could end up paying dividends when she starts her career as an adult.
We all love our children so much. We love making them happy. We love seeing them smile. We want to give them life’s experiences, and we want their childhood to be special. I have always felt the best way to learn is through adversity. Children provide multiple opportunities during their childhood for parents to help drive adversity into the equation. In my case, my daughter had to deal with the consequences of not going to the concert. She had to tell her friends they could no longer go. She had to deal with the emotions she was feeling. Most importantly, she had to reconcile with the decision-making responsibility she had. As a parent, I had a huge knot in my stomach after I did what I did. I thought my daughter would hate me, and that our relationship would change forever. Boy was I wrong. Within a week, my daughter bounced back and was her normal self, except for one thing. She started to do what was being asked of her.
As parents, we should teach the attribute of ACCOUNTABILITY early on. I guarantee it will make our kids more successful in school and in their professional careers. Just like in business, delivering consequences to the right people will drive the change you are looking for, and it will make for happier employees down the road.