By Michele Kelly
Meet my social media director Katherine Kelly. I remember the day she covertly painted herself and her cousin with my redder than red lipstick (age 3), the time she put a SweeTart up her nose (age 5), and the first time a boy broke her heart (age 13).
Katherine is my daughter. She has worked for me during her senior year at Augustana College. Last weekend, my heart swelled as she walked the stage having earned a communications degree. In reflecting on our collaboration this past year, I wanted to share some tips on how to make hiring your children the best hire ever.
1. Your Child Will Excel at the WIW Game. This tip is No. 1 for a reason. Our children are millennials. They have grown up in an era of great change and many technology firsts. Ask them: What if we . . . , then lean back and listen.
Use your child’s youthful experience for greater insight into your industry, competitive situation, external relationships, content, office morale, efficiency processes, culture, and messaging. Ideation is one of my favorite ways to work with Katherine. She sees opportunities sitting in my blind spot.
2. Continue Teaching. Your children have had the best teacher – YOU! Under your employ, respectfully continue teaching them. It will always be your most important job.
One time, Katherine made a post with a gross misspelling. She got the benefit of learning the value of proofreading. I could have just fixed it and let it go. That would have been easier and faster, but would not have helped her or me.
3. Capitalize on Their Passions. You’ll never know an employee better than your own child. Make their passions your company’s advantage.
Remember how your son loved playing teacher when he was little? Maybe he’s the perfect person to help onboard new clients. Or maybe your daughter spent hours writing stories. Try her hand at creating landing pages or penning a poem for your corporate Christmas card.
Katherine loved to draw (I have boxes in the attic to prove it!). Her eye for art pops up in her work for me all the time.
4. Celebrate the Wins. When your son or daughter makes an extraordinary contribution to the business, celebrate. Katherine has spent nearly a year helping me develop YES: Your Extraordinary Story!, a creative writing program for young authors. We’re celebrating her work and talking new ideas this week at Aurora’s coolest new coffee shop, Endiro. It’s a big win because we now have five successful short stories written from YES programs. I couldn’t have done it without her graphic design and social media support.
Celebrating milestones with your children is a great way to inspire and reward. Besides, our children will always be the most grateful recipients of our generosity.
5. Lean on Your Child’s Objectivity. Discovering this tip came as a huge surprise to me. Your children can bring a unique sense of calm for you as a businessperson. Stay with me for a second here while I explain. They know you as a human being, yet, unlike the home front, they bring great objectivity to the workplace.
Plus, our children don’t yet understand the panic from feeling overwhelmed, stepping far outside our comfort zone or simply not having all the answers. As a parent and business owner, I live the panic. In these times, I have turned to my daughter. Her objectivity has given me clearer direction on more than one occasion.
6. I still go by Mom. So the issue of what to call a parent in business does come up. I find this particularly true in emails. So you write this long dissertation on a work issue and then sign it with “mom”? Absolutely. The fact remains that I’m a mother to my three children. If you have visited my LinkedIn, you’ll see I lead with this. Having your son or daughter call you mom or dad at work is a good thing because it’s the truth. To me, truth always wins.
Your children bring a lot to the table for your business. But, of course, you already knew that from the hundreds of family dinners you’ve shared over the years. Now take the conversation to the corporate setting. With the right approach, they could be one of your best hires.
By the way, if you want to make Katherine YOUR next great hire, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (630) 730-4332. Just remember, she will always be my No. 1 idea partner!