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Thought for the Week: “If you want people to act like adults, don’t treat them like children.” – Bryan Yager
Good morning and happy Monday!
For most of my career, I have facilitated workshops on how to be a more effective supervisor, manager, and/or leader. I can’t begin to tell you how many times, over the years, a participant would approach me after class with a fairly common question, a complaint really. The following is an abbreviated version of one of those conversations:
Participant: “May I speak with you for a few minutes?”

Me: “Certainly, what is on your mind?”

Participant: “I don’t know what to do, I’m not really a manager, I feel like I’m nothing more than a glorified babysitter! The people in my department act like children, all day long!”

Me: “My advice is to quit.”

Participant: “Excuse me? I can’t quit! I have four young children at home! I need this job!”

Me: “Oh no, that is not what I meant to say at all. I didn’t mean quit your job.”

Participant: “I’m confused.”

Me: “I meant quit babysitting. If you’re tired of babysitting, then quit babysitting.”

Participant: “But, my employees act like children and I’m tired of it… it is so exhausting.”

Trying to gently hold up a mirror for this manager to see the situation through a different lens. I inquired with, “Could it be they act like children because you’re treating them like children? I wonder what would happen if you experimented with treating your employees like adults? Just maybe they would begin acting like adults. It is possible you might never feel like a babysitter again, at least in the workplace!

While I will never know for sure, I suspect that manager’s employees resented being treated like children as much as the manager resented feeling like a babysitter.  Maybe it was time for him to be the manager they wanted, needed, and deserved him to be!

This is a management lesson I learned while watching my wife Becky parent our children when they were quite young. Please know our children were not the perfect “wonder children” most people dream about prior to becoming parents, nor were Becky and I anywhere near perfect parents. Like all parents, we made a lot of mistakes along the path.
Having said that, Becky taught me a lot about effective management in the way she both spoke with, and treated, our children. She gave respect, spoke respectfully, and expected respect in return.
Becky rarely raised her voice and almost never made demands, issued ultimatums or threats. She taught our children that actions, and choices, both have corresponding consequences. Even at an early age, she began speaking with our children as young adults. She knew instinctively that when raising young people to be adults, you don’t treat them like children. Becky was, and is, an amazing mom. I have learned much from watching her magic. I’m more than happy to share those lessons I learned from her with others.
I am proud of Becky and together, we are immensely proud of our adult children, including our son-in-love.
Are you babysitting at home? At work? It just might be time to quit.
As always, how will you love, live, or lead differently, or better, this week?
Have a great week!!
Bryan Yager
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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Bonus Quotes:

  • “Treat people the way they are, and they will stay that way. Treat people the way they can become, and they will become that way.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • “If you treat people like adults, the will act like adults, but if you treat them like children, they will act like children.” – Dennis Blake
  • “The way you treat people says a lot about who you are. Be careful. Your actions are screaming over your words.” – Thema Davis
  • “I think it is incredibly important to be open and accessible and treat people fairly and look them in the eye and tell them what is on your mind.” – Bob Iger
  • “You can’t treat people like dirt and expect them to treat you like gold.” – Mario Cottman
  • “Treat people the way you want to be treated. Talk to people the way you want to be talked to. Respect is earned, not given.” – Hussein Nishah
  • “Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you.” – Unknown
  • “If you treat people like children, then they’ll behave like children. If you treat them like adults, you’ll get more out of them.” – Peter Cochrane