Why Does People Managing Sometimes Feel Like Adult Babysitting?


Sorry for the passionate tone, but it’s true.

People management should not feel like adult babysitting. It should feel uplifting, exhausting, rewarding, emotional and fulfilling. Watching, supporting and uplifting others to bring to life a mission is awesome. And that’s what people managers should be; Culture champions, coaches, facilitators, mentors, vision setters, story tellers.

I watched the Steven Spielberg film “Lincoln” again recently and loved Lincoln’s passion for a cause and how he inspired helped from others that shared his mission to play important roles in the process of bringing it to life. And he didn’t use them (at least how it was portrayed in the movie), but rather engaged and encouraged them to do their part.

And he was an awesome story teller. He regularly used stories to insure humor, focus effort and to engage and inspire.

What I loved most is that you never saw his team, colleagues or others asking for his permission, defaulting to his way of thinking or immediately looking to him for validation after suggesting an idea. He encouraged debate and diversity of thinking and focused on the mission and kept everyone else doing the same. This enabled him to be surrounded by leaders, thinkers and responsible human beings with their own independent brains yet focusing their efforts in a common direction.

I’m not suggesting every people manager has to be Abraham Lincoln in order to be successful in their role. That’s too ridiculous of a standard.

My point is that there are positive examples of great leadership all around us.

However I am saying that it is absolutely true that you must engage your teams’ passions, ideas and thinking brains if you not only want to get out of the babysitting business but want to get in the awesome results and business growth business.

There are some easy (and hard) things to do in order to change this approach if you’re caught in the cycle.

Start by clarifying the critical elements of organizational clarity. Things like mission, values, goals, strategy.

Once those things are clear (and I strongly suggest you include your team in the process of answering those questions) then get busy helping your team make daily decisions using that information.

This process reinforces your mission and cause and helps your team to internalize it in a way that guides their decisions and ultimately behaviors.

Which that’s how a mission is accomplished and a workplace culture built and experienced. Through the daily actions of everyone involved.

Good luck on you cause and on let me know how I might be able help.

Devin Craig



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