Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.
Over Easter, Fraser and I celebrated being married 20 years and together 25 years. We were going to go to Ibiza and renew our vows on a beach but covid thoughtfully put a stop to that. That’s just how covid rolls. At least we were able to go out for a fabulous lunch! Not quite Ibiza but less sand in our underwear I guess.
Such a big milestone got me thinking about what I’ve learned about making a marriage work and also how that relates to other parts of life, and I thought I’d share, because that’s how I roll!
Tip 1: Don’t take things out on the wrong person.
I used to get home from work and take out all the annoyance and anger from what had happened that day onto Fraser. And that wasn’t fair on him. So from then on I’d have a good complain to myself on the drive home then when I got home would be in a good mood for the evening because I wasn’t with those stinking workmates/managers anymore, I was with my lovely husband. Obviously sometimes you do get angry at things that happen, but don’t get angry at your partner, or a work colleague if it’s nothing to do with them. In HR we have to deal with a whole load of shit – but we often don’t direct our anger at the right person. Imagine that when a manager hasn’t done their performance reviews despite many reminders – we actually told them how disappointed and upset we are that they are showing their team how little they value them. Imagine when someone in your team doesn’t meet deadline or stuffs up, you tell them how you feel about it rather than complaining when you get home. Imagine telling a senior leader who is known for making sleazy comments just how sleazy and gross and angry their comments make you. I always felt working in HR and being a manager I had to be profession and not discuss emotions – but perhaps that would have been a much healthier approach.
Tip 2: where is the love? ❤️
I see so many couples who are tired and overwhelmed and snap at each other all the time. They forget about actually showing the other person they love them (not just saying it which is much easier). As a 90’s song said – its about more than words. I find ways everyday to show Fraser I love him and he does the same. Making someone a cup of tea, giving a back rub, discussing something and really listening – finds ways to show the love.
Perhaps this applies in HR and management too. Do we take the time to check on our colleagues or team to see how they are doing? Do we show them we appreciate them enough?
Tip 3: don’t try to change someone.
Yes there are some habits Fraser and I have, that we might change about each other if we had the choice. But each one of us is actually a package. Those annoying things make me who I am. We don’t try and change our friends (unless they are doing something really bad for them) so why do we do it with our spouses? I love Fraser and accept everything about him because that’s who he is. No trying to change him as that’s the stuff that makes him him. And I don’t want him to try and change me either!! However we do sometimes make jokes about it which works far better than getting annoyed.
Should we do the same with colleagues or our team? If we know Doug in accounting always makes a numbers pun – why not just let him then groan theatrically at the pun he makes? Or if we know Saria tends to send enormously long emails with strange graphics – accept that and learn to scan and find the bits you need. Or go and ask her to talk you through the key points. The thing is if you make her stop the long emails, maybe you stifle her thought process and she gets worse at writing reports. Changing stuff can lead to unforeseen consequences. I used to work with a guy who was great fun but his emails were almost comprehensible as they were him thinking out loud. But train him to communicate differently, and maybe he wouldn’t be fun bobby anymore (Friends reference there).
Tip 4: Be friends
I saw an interview with Tom Hanks years ago and they asked him what the secret of a great marriage is and he said ‘marry the right person’.
So simple but so true! Fraser and I were friends for over a year before we got together so we knew we liked each other and liked hanging out and doing the same stuff. Loving someone is great but if you’re friends too – it’s a pretty good sign they are the right person to be with. It’s much harder to make marriage work if you have no shared interests.
Working with people or managing a team everyday is far more enjoyable if you actually get along with each other! Find stuff that you both like – some shared interests you can talk about or even do together and work may just feel a bit more fun.
25 years together is a long time but spending it with your one true love makes it fly by. Running a business together too just makes it even more fun 🤔😉 but does also create some challenges. I do believe there are things that you can both do to make your marriage be the best it can – and the same for your work life. Unfortunately some of these lessons take time to learn so maybe one of my tips will have made sense to you and be something you try out now – rather than waiting 25 years to get there!!
Angela Atkins is the co-founder of Elephant Group who now operate in NZ, Australia, the UK, Canada and the US. She is the author of the Bites series of books and the Management Bites training programme. She now lives in the south west of France, renovating a 200+ year old house.