I am Sam Featured

11:01am EDT April 26, 2006
When my wife gave birth in early March to our second son, Cole, I assumed I was a seasoned pro at the parenting game.

And why not? With our first son, Sam, I had the proverbial magic touch. I could make him stop crying, get him to take his bottle (and later eat his solid food), easily put him down for a nap or get him to bed, and no matter how fussy he became, I always could calm him down.

Because of the ease with which I managed Sam, I assumed my parenting style would work with any child Laura and I brought into the world. So along came Cole, and the stark reality that every individual is different turned me from parenting God to humble dad.

After many futile attempts to ply the same tricks used with Sam, I finally realized I’d need to adapt my parenting style to fit Cole’s own personality and needs. After all, he wasn’t Sam, and he needed to be treated differently.

In the workplace, many managers and CEOs have come to the same realization, albeit sometimes at a higher cost than a few sleepless nights. When they’ve tried to manage every employee the same way, they’ve painstakingly learned that what works to motivate one person may actually have the opposite or no effect with a different staff member.

Some employees crave the limelight; others prefer praise in a one-on-one setting. Some people are driven by money; others by achieving greater responsibility. Some are motivated simply by working with them one-on-one to challenge them to do the best job they can at their current position.

Great business leaders know that each person is different and, despite conventional wisdom, if you ply a one-size-fits-all strategy with your staff, you’re certain to fail.

It’s imperative to get to know each member of your team and determine the best way to manage those individuals. Find out what their goals are, what motivates them, what demotivates them, what challenges them and, most important, how they want to be treated.

All of this can be accomplished by simply sitting down with them and asking.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Cole. With him, it’s going to take trial and error. And a few more sleepless nights.