Richard Maun – Grown Up Kids Need Structure!

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Grown Up Kids Need Structure!

29 January 2017

I know we are all big kids really and that when nobody is looking we sling a CD into the drive, crank up the volume and have a good thrash on our air guitar. Or is that just me? Whatever you do, it’s likely that you will access the playful child that lurks within and mess about for a few minutes. All good, healthy fun!

I’m sure you were a child once and went to school and enjoyed the joy (or in my case hell) of double maths. However, I was always amazed that Wednesday was, without fail, games afternoon when at this time of year I could be found cowering in the mud on a rugby pitch, trying not to be spotted by the bigger boys, who would take endless pleasure in treating me like a skittle and sending me back into the mud. I┬ádidn’t even have to be holding the ball for this to happen, it just seemed that some of us were not cut out for rugby and I was most certainly not.

On the up side we did know what was required of us, even if we didn’t sometimes enjoy the lessons. We knew when lesson breaks were, what the rules were regarding socks (heaven help you if you chose to wear white ones and get caught) and so despite the odd mud-bath, school was a safe and generally genial place to be.

We had structure in our lives and children need structure. It brings safety into their world and when children feel safe they learn better, play better and generally enjoy life.

So it is with us big kids, who have swapped the rugby pitch for the office and double maths for a long paper-strewn meeting. We still need structure in our lives, in order to feel safe and perform better.

We need to know what is expected of us. Although this sounds obvious, I’ve encountered several examples recently of senior people who have been promoted and are still waiting for a job description and a clear sense of what the organisational priorities are. Make no mistake, just because someone has a grey beard and two children, doesn’t mean they can suddenly operate in a vacuum, or simply ‘work it out’ for themselves.

Structure is needed at all levels and at all times for people to know what the organisation is paying them for. Without it, people can drift, feel uncertain and allow their confidence to wane. They can become demoralised and may even begin to harbour thoughts of leaving for the green grass across the road.

And if you don’t feel you need structure so, therefore, don’t pay attention to it in others, I dare you to teach a class of five year old children and refuse to answer their questions, or tell them anything about the lesson. Madness, you might cry, and rightly so. Adults are all big kids at heart and we all need to have clear structure.

This week take a look around your team. Who has been promoted and is waiting for you to deliver their new job description to them? Who is working hard, but is unsure of the targets they will be measured against at their annual appraisal? Maybe we might need to ask some questions ourselves and be active, rather than passive.

Good business is build around good structure and we would do well to pay heed to the happy five year olds, who will be running the world for us in 30 years time.

Have fun with structure! And remember that it doesn’t limit creativity either, because safety allows people to explore.

Next week: When A Contract Isn’t A Contract


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© Richard Maun 2015 / Click here to contact