Mom, Inc: Taking Your Work Skills Home

Mom, Inc: Taking Your Work Skills Home

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Overview

Mom, Inc: Taking Your Work Skills Home by Neale S. Godfrey, Tad Richards

The author of the #1 "New York Times" bestseller "Money Doesn't Grow on Trees" shows women how to employ business strategies to create more fulfilling lives at home.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780684807935
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 05/01/1999
Pages: 239
Product dimensions: 5.86(w) x 8.76(h) x 1.02(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2

How Come the Workplace Seems So Structured and Home Seems So Chaotic?

Because there aren't any four-year-olds running around the workplace?

That is part of it. There's no getting around it, home is a place with a lot of loose ends, and that's as it should be. The loose ends of home are creativity, exploration, self-expression, and the fact that not everyone is working from the same mission statement. Your four-year-old's mission statement, if he could express it, would be different from yours. Your fifteen-year-old's mission statement — if she's talking to you on any given day — would certainly be different.

But perhaps that's not what makes home and the workplace so different. Everyone always has his or her agenda. Your company might have a mission statement, but unless you're one of the owners of the company, it's probably not the one you would have written up. The computer software programmer, the stock clerk, and the chief buyer in your company would probably all have different mission statements, too, if you asked them.


We all see life from our own point of view. There's a story about an actor who got a part in a Broadway play — the classic A Streetcar Named Desire, which starred a young Jessica Tandy and Marlon Brando. In the last scene, after Tandy's character suffers a complete mental collapse, she has to be taken to the hospital by a doctor, accompanied by two attendants. The actor was to play one of the attendants.

"I've got a part in a new play!" he told a friend. "It's all about this guy who comes to take a lady to a nuthouse."


We all tend to think of ourselves asthe center of the universe, and why shouldn't we? The difference is, that actor had a director who did understand the overall picture, and every company has someone in charge who knows its central mission and knows how the computer programmer, the stock clerk, and the chief buyer fit into it.

This is what you need at home. You don't need to create a mini-dictatorship, but you do need to have one person who'll do the overall thinking, who will have a master plan and understand how everyone else fits into it. You need a CEO. And that CEO is you.

You've got all the qualifications for the job. You know all the personnel better than anyone else. You have the vision, you have the brains, you have the experience, and you have the mandate.

If you're a single mom, you're definitely the only one who's qualified. If you're part of a couple, and your husband is one of those who has woken up and discovered that we're almost in the twenty-first century, and men's and women's roles have changed...well, you're one of the lucky ones (fortunately, such husbands are not as rare as they once were). But you're still the one who knows how all the parts fit together. And if you take over the job of household CEO, you'll get things done the way you want them done.

And it doesn't matter whether you're a CEO or a waitress out in the workplace. You can still be that CEO at home, and you can still adapt workplace skills for home use.

A New Way of Organizing

The big news in the workplace over the past couple of decades has been the emergence of women as a significant force. We've had the opportunity-to show what we could do, and we've done it. We've made the workplace a different place, and a better place.

Here's another big change that has occurred in the workplace over the past couple of decades. Modern management strategy has moved from a process-oriented workforce to a project-oriented workforce.

Work used to be built around a process. Big manufacturing companies made the same thing — cars, steel girders, stuffed panda bears — and people, in one way or another, were plugged into that process. You might start on the assembly line, then move up to foreman, then move up to supervisor; or you might start in an entry-level office job and move up to a higher-level executive function. But basically, you were still going to be involved with the same cars, or girders, or panda bears, as long as you worked for the company.

At home, it meant you lived in the same house, in the same neighborhood, and with the same neighbors. It meant you didn't get divorced.

Well, those days are gone forever. My own work life has bounced me around like a pinball, and I'm not unusual. Americans today average seven different careers between entry into the workforce and retirement.

The rest of our lives follows the same checkered pattern as our careers. We move around, sometimes from one part of the country to another. Sadly, we do get divorced; sometimes we remarry and create stepfamilies with special challenges of their own.

Process vs. Project

You know that younger generation? The one that's always going to the dogs? The one that doesn't stand a chance of competing in the world the way we did because they're too lazy, too unprepared, with the wrong attitude, wrong schooling, no motivation?

That younger generation, it seems, has been around for a long time. According to The Frugal Housewife, by Mrs. Child, written in 1832:

The fact is, our young girls have no home education. When quite young, they are sent to schools where no feminine employments, no domestic habits, can be learned; and there they continue till they "come out" into the world. After this, few find any time to arrange, and make use of, the mass of elementary knowledge they have acquired; and fewer still have any leisure or taste for the inelegant, every-day duties of life.

Makes you wonder how we survived at all, doesn't it?

Well, surprise! Today's young women are great! They're educated, they're motivated, they're street-smart, they're ethical, and they really are ready to get out there and take the world by storm. Many of them will make their mark in the business world before they settle down to the "inelegant, every-day duties" of family life. Some of them will then decide to cut back on their work commitment, while others (over 50 percent) will continue to balance work and family — and to do it well. A recent study by Susan Seliger in the December/January 1998 issue of Working Mother magazine suggests that those mothers who stay in the workplace feel, more strongly than ever, that they can excel at work without sacrificing their home lives.

Seliger's survey found that 92 percent of Working Mother's readers who responded to the survey considered themselves either "ambitious" or "highly ambitious" in the workplace, and by an overwhelming margin those ambitious women saw themselves as proud of their work and happy with their marriages and families.

Seliger points out how far we've come in this regard, from a time when even if women did work, it was considered unseemly for them to admit to anything as unladylike as ambition, because ambitious women were considered hard, cold, ruthless, single-minded. She quotes Janice Steil, professor of psychology at the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, as saying, "the old stereotype that ambitious women become more like men and lose their nurturing qualities is just not accurate."

Steil's research has shown no correlation, one way or the other, between ambition and nurturing qualities. The one simply does not get in the way of the other.

But for all their skill and ambition and nurturing qualities, it still seems that far too many young women will find themselves mired in the same routine that their mothers and grandmothers established. Too many of them will not have changed the way they manage their households, and too many of them will continue to see an increasing divergence between their sense of accomplishment in the workplace and that same sense at home.

It doesn't have to happen. A generation of women has conquered the world of business in spite of having few role models. They did it with courage and perseverance, and they have become the mentors and role models for the younger women who followed them.

So who are we to look to for our role models at home?

We don't have to look any farther than ourselves in our business lives.

Today, business strategy is centered around goals rather than routines. Here's how that works. Once you've identified a goal, you then create a project to meet that goal. That means figuring our a strategy, and putting together a team to carry out that strategy. You might need some experts for the team that aren't from your company, so you go out and bring them in for this project — you outsource.

Then, when the project is finished, you critique it, you improve the rough edges, and you go on to something new — new projects, new teams, new strategies, all connected to an overall master plan for the organization, but each one with its own challenges and rewards.

This new way of looking at business coincided directly with the infusion of women into the workforce. Coincidence? Maybe not. Men like hierarchies and pecking orders. Women like to get together and work things out by negotiation and cooperation, though we can crack the whip, too, when we need to.

So Why Don't We Do It at Home?

Why do we get bogged down at home, when we're so good in the workplace? Why does it all seem so...so routine?

Maybe it's because we've bought into a lot of myths about home. For instance:

You can't fire your family.

Well, that's true to an extent. You can't, of course. You can divorce your husband, and that happens to many of us, sadly. But you can't divorce your kids.

Sure, but what does that mean? That you're locked into a rut, an endless process?

It shouldn't. At home, you handle more personnel changes than the human resources manager of a Fortune 500 company. Last year, your employee pool included a stubborn two-year-old; this year, he's been replaced by an energetic and inquiring three-year-old. That sulky sixteen-year-old you were closer to killing than firing seems to have taken off of her own accord, and suddenly your team has been augmented by an intelligent and responsible seventeen-year-old, and you realize it'll break your heart when she leaves the firm next year to head for college.

We hear a lot about all the different hats women wear, all the different job descriptions we have at home: accountant, buildings and grounds chief, chauffeur, cleaning woman, comptroller, day care worker, fashion consultant, gardener, guidance counselor, health care provider, judge, psychologist, repairperson, transportation supervisor, travel agent, veterinarian. We could probably add another ten jobs to the list with no trouble at all. But it's all a little condescending, isn't it? We don't need to invent all those different made-up titles to make us understand that being a mom is a varied and challenging job, or that it will keep us as busy as all get-out!

Besides, as CEO of the household, naturally it's our responsibility to make sure everything gets done, either by delegating or by doing it ourselves.

It's not making up a bunch of fake job descriptions that will make the difference in building our self-esteem, in giving us a sense of purpose, in creating a work environment at home that will be fulfilling, rewarding, and most of all, manageable. It's understanding the nature of work and the nature of management, and learning how to identify, plan, prioritize, and manage projects.

Copyright © 1999 by Neale S. Godfrey/Children's Financial Network, Inc.

First Chapter

Chapter 2

How Come the Workplace Seems So Structured and Home Seems So Chaotic?

Because there aren't any four-year-olds running around the workplace?

That is part of it. There's no getting around it, home is a place with a lot of loose ends, and that's as it should be. The loose ends of home are creativity, exploration, self-expression, and the fact that not everyone is working from the same mission statement. Your four-year-old's mission statement, if he could express it, would be different from yours. Your fifteen-year-old's mission statement -- if she's talking to you on any given day -- would certainly be different.

But perhaps that's not what makes home and the workplace so different. Everyone always has his or her agenda. Your company might have a mission statement, but unless you're one of the owners of the company, it's probably not the one you would have written up. The computer software programmer, the stock clerk, and the chief buyer in your company would probably all have different mission statements, too, if you asked them.


We all see life from our own point of view. There's a story about an actor who got a part in a Broadway play -- the classic A Streetcar Named Desire, which starred a young Jessica Tandy and Marlon Brando. In the last scene, after Tandy's character suffers a complete mental collapse, she has to be taken to the hospital by a doctor, accompanied by two attendants. The actor was to play one of the attendants.

"I've got a part in a new play!" he told a friend. "It's all about this guy who comes to take a lady to a nuthouse."


We all tend to think of ourselves as the center of the universe, and whyange that has occurred in the workplace over the past couple of decades. Modern management strategy has moved from a process-oriented workforce to a project-oriented workforce.

Work used to be built around a process. Big manufacturing companies made the same thing -- cars, steel girders, stuffed panda bears -- and people, in one way or another, were plugged into that process. You might start on the assembly line, then move up to foreman, then move up to supervisor; or you might start in an entry-level office job and move up to a higher-level executive function. But basically, you were still going to be involved with the same cars, or girders, or panda bears, as long as you worked for the company.

At home, it meant you lived in the same house, in the same neighborhood, and with the same neighbors. It meant you didn't get divorced.

Well, those days are gone forever. My own work life has bounced me around like a pinball, and I'm not unusual. Americans today average seven different careers between entry into the workforce and retirement.

The rest of our lives follows the same checkered pattern as our careers. We move around, sometimes from one part of the country to another. Sadly, we do get divorced; sometimes we remarry and create stepfamilies with special challenges of their own.

Process vs. Project

You know that younger generation? The one that's always going to the dogs? The one that doesn't stand a chance of competing in the world the way we did because they're too lazy, too unprepared, with the wrong attitude, wrong schooling, no motivation?

That younger generation, it seems, has been around for a long time. According to The Frugal Housewife, by Mr s. Child, written in 1832:

The fact is, our young girls have no home education. When quite young, they are sent to schools where no feminine employments, no domestic habits, can be learned; and there they continue till they "come out" into the world. After this, few find any time to arrange, and make use of, the mass of elementary knowledge they have acquired; and fewer still have any leisure or taste for the inelegant, every-day duties of life.

Makes you wonder how we survived at all, doesn't it?

Well, surprise! Today's young women are great! They're educated, they're motivated, they're street-smart, they're ethical, and they really are ready to get out there and take the world by storm. Many of them will make their mark in the business world before they settle down to the "inelegant, every-day duties" of family life. Some of them will then decide to cut back on their work commitment, while others (over 50 percent) will continue to balance work and family -- and to do it well. A recent study by Susan Seliger in the December/January 1998 issue of Working Mother magazine suggests that those mothers who stay in the workplace feel, more strongly than ever, that they can excel at work without sacrificing their home lives.

Seliger's survey found that 92 percent of Working Mother's readers who responded to the survey considered themselves either "ambitious" or "highly ambitious" in the workplace, and by an overwhelming margin those ambitious women saw themselves as proud of their work and happy with their marriages and families.

Seliger points out how far we've come in this regard, from a time when even if women did work, it was considered unseemly f or them to admit to anything as unladylike as ambition, because ambitious women were considered hard, cold, ruthless, single-minded. She quotes Janice Steil, professor of psychology at the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, as saying, "the old stereotype that ambitious women become more like men and lose their nurturing qualities is just not accurate."

Steil's research has shown no correlation, one way or the other, between ambition and nurturing qualities. The one simply does not get in the way of the other.

But for all their skill and ambition and nurturing qualities, it still seems that far too many young women will find themselves mired in the same routine that their mothers and grandmothers established. Too many of them will not have changed the way they manage their households, and too many of them will continue to see an increasing divergence between their sense of accomplishment in the workplace and that same sense at home.

It doesn't have to happen. A generation of women has conquered the world of business in spite of having few role models. They did it with courage and perseverance, and they have become the mentors and role models for the younger women who followed them.

So who are we to look to for our role models at home?

We don't have to look any farther than ourselves in our business lives.

Today, business strategy is centered around goals rather than routines. Here's how that works. Once you've identified a goal, you then create a project to meet that goal. That means figuring our a strategy, and putting together a team to carry out that strategy. You might need some experts for the team that aren't from your company, so you go out and bring them in for this project -- you outsource.

Then, when the project is finished, you critique it, you improve the rough edges, and you go on to something new -- new projects, new teams, new strategies, all connected to an overall master plan for the organization, but each one with its own challenges and rewards.

This new way of looking at business coincided directly with the infusion of women into the workforce. Coincidence? Maybe not. Men like hierarchies and pecking orders. Women like to get together and work things out by negotiation and cooperation, though we can crack the whip, too, when we need to.

So Why Don't We Do It at Home?

Why do we get bogged down at home, when we're so good in the workplace? Why does it all seem so...so routine?

Maybe it's because we've bought into a lot of myths about home. For instance:

You can't fire your family.

Well, that's true to an extent. You can't, of course. You can divorce your husband, and that happens to many of us, sadly. But you can't divorce your kids.

Sure, but what does that mean? That you're locked into a rut, an endless process?

It shouldn't. At home, you handle more personnel changes than the human resources manager of a Fortune 500 company. Last year, your employee pool included a stubborn two-year-old; this year, he's been replaced by an energetic and inquiring three-year-old. That sulky sixteen-year-old you were closer to killing than firing seems to have taken off of her own accord, and suddenly your team has been augmented by an intelligent and responsible seventeen-year-old, and you realize it'll break your heart when she leaves the firm next year to head for colleg e.

We hear a lot about all the different hats women wear, all the different job descriptions we have at home: accountant, buildings and grounds chief, chauffeur, cleaning woman, comptroller, day care worker, fashion consultant, gardener, guidance counselor, health care provider, judge, psychologist, repairperson, transportation supervisor, travel agent, veterinarian. We could probably add another ten jobs to the list with no trouble at all. But it's all a little condescending, isn't it? We don't need to invent all those different made-up titles to make us understand that being a mom is a varied and challenging job, or that it will keep us as busy as all get-out!

Besides, as CEO of the household, naturally it's our responsibility to make sure everything gets done, either by delegating or by doing it ourselves.

It's not making up a bunch of fake job descriptions that will make the difference in building our self-esteem, in giving us a sense of purpose, in creating a work environment at home that will be fulfilling, rewarding, and most of all, manageable. It's understanding the nature of work and the nature of management, and learning how to identify, plan, prioritize, and manage projects.

Copyright © 1999 by Neale S. Godfrey/Children's Financial Network, Inc.

Table of Contents

Contents

Part I: TAKING IT HOME

Chapter 1 Home, Office, and Stress

Chapter 2 How Come the Workplace Seems So Structured and Home Seems So Chaotic?

Chapter 3 So Where Do We Start?

Part II: IDENTIFYING PROJECTS

Chapter 4 What's a Project?

Chapter 5 The Regular Chores

Chapter 6 The Gotcha! Chronicles

Chapter 7 You Can't Fire Your Family

Chapter 8 A Family Mission Statement

Chapter 9 When It's Not Important That You Do It

Chapter 10 Office Techniques at Home

Chapter 11 The Kid Projects

Chapter 12 Budget Projects

Chapter 13 Holiday Projects

Chapter 14 Future Projects

Chapter 15 Learning Projects

Part III: FAMILY FRIENDLY

Chapter 16 The Other Side of the Equation

Chapter 17 Changing the Norm

Chapter 18 Family, Inc.

Epilogue

Index

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