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Debunking Common Misconceptions: Parents In The Workplace

Debunking Common Misconceptions: Parents In The Workplace

Being a parent is tough. Whether you work full time, part time, from home, or not at all, it’s still hard. The many myths about parents circulating through the workplace it only make it harder. However, working parents make some of the best employees and leaders.

Here’s a guide to some of the most common misconceptions about parents at work and why they’re not true.

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Parents need more accommodations than other employees.

Asking for accommodations or flexible schedules is not unique to working parents only. I’ve worked with men that negotiated all air travel needs to be booked in business class or higher due to injuries. I’ve worked with twenty-somethings that requested to work a four day schedule so they could go back to school part time or pursue a volunteer opportunity. I’ve seen older adults in the workplace scale back their schedules so that they can spend more time at home with their significant others or to care for an ailing parent. Almost everyone has to cut out of the office every now and again for a doctor’s appointment or other personal matters.

Accommodations and flexible schedules seem to be synonymous with working parents, but in reality, they are not. Nearly every type of employee takes advantage (and is thankful) of accommodations in the workplace that allow work-life integration.

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Parents aren’t committed to their jobs.

This one is really surprising because it’s quite the contrary. There is actually strong evidence that parents are more committed to their jobs than many other employees. Traditionally, companies have rewarded men who become fathers with the “fatherhood bonus”, usually resulting in about a 6% increase in salary. Once you become a family man, you’re viewed as more dependable and more committed to your job since you now have to provide for a family. Women, on the other hand, experience the “motherhood penalty”, and many earn 4% less per child than they would have if they had remained childless. It’s based on the assumption that they are more distracted or will work less. However, working parents are some of the most efficient, focused employees out there. The constant juggle of managing a career with family commitments makes them well-equipped to prioritize and really be strategic about utilizing resources. Furthermore, parents are less likely to job hop than other employees. Stability is key when raising a family and the challenges associated with transitioning to a new work place or relocating are only considered when absolutely necessary.

Parents aren’t good team members.

Since parents have after-hours commitments, when they need to leave the office at 5 or aren’t able to come in before 9, most people think that the singletons on the team need to make up for it. In today’s technology embracing world, this is hardly the case. While many parents do limit their physical “in office” hours, most spend time on weekends, early mornings, and after work working. Limiting hours in the office isn’t unique to parents, many people with long commutes or global work spend only core hours in the office and complete a lot of their work at home before or after-hours. Besides, parents aren’t the only employees to take vacations. All team members usually have to cover for each other. Parents may be more inclined to take vacation during major holidays due to children’s school schedules, but putting programs in place that rotate vacation time periods during different holidays can help make sure that no one has to endure year after year with no time off during their favorite holiday.

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Don’t forget, parent’s are hugely efficient at scoping out job needs and responsibilities and getting work done timely – and usually within business hours. These skills can help any team be more productive.

Parents are at work only out of financial necessity.

Why would anyone want to leave their children behind and come to the workplace if they didn’t have to? Actually, a lot of people. Caring for children is a wonderful experience, but everyone needs a break. Many parents that pursued careers prior to becoming parents may still be interested in their field of work, finding the work intellectually stimulating and interesting. Sometimes, you need to connect with other adults and feel current in a world that doesn’t revolve around child rearing. Money is nice, and may be a main motivating factor for many people, but it’s certainly not the only reason that parents are there.

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The one issue that leaves parents at a significant disadvantage in the workplace is addressing last minute needs or a crisis that may crop up towards the end of the workday. This has little to do with anyone’s capability to deal with the issue, but more to do with the structure of childcare available for working parents. Most parents simply can’t extend their childcare past a certain hour without advance notice. While this may be challenging, I’d highly encourage dual working families to try to stay flexible and the parents help each other if one is experiencing an office fire towards the end of the day.

Alternatively, you could tackle the challenge by responding to the team with, “I’d like to take a few hours to evaluate this further. If it’s urgent enough, let’s plan a call tonight to review next steps, otherwise, we’ll regroup in the morning.” Most employees don’t want to be on a 9pm call and you’ll probably be able to restart in the morning.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

Reference

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