Have you noticed that some people’s behaviour is immature at best and childish in the extreme sometimes? If you are a manager, you may have noticed that your team can “play up” and be difficult?
Most children need structure in order to thrive and remain free from harm. Children require direction and encouragement when they attempt something new or complicated for them. They may not know what is needed right now, because the future doesn’t occur to them as something to think about too much. It is all about the present, learning and fun.
Some bosses treat people like children and then wonder why they behave as children.
Fully-grown adults are not children. They no longer need the structures of childhood to keep them safe from harm, although we do need policies and procedures. Adults can make up their own minds as to what needs to be done right now. There is good evidence as to why people react to being treated like children by behaving like children.
The boss is literally tapping into or stimulating someone’s inner-child. In this case, the inner child being stimulated is either Rebel Child or Compliant Child. (Eric Berne)
All relationships are inter-related: You do/ say something, then I’ll do\ say something in response. A “child-like” response is someone using childhood experiences to play-out or negotiate the situation being enacted. In extreme situations of conflict, we may “rubber-band” back to a childhood experience and act this out, when we are very angry, as an example. Everyone’s experience is different, so predicting specific responses can be difficult. You have been warned!
Rebel Child: This person is not going to do what you want them to do! Or, they are going to keep on doing what you don’t want them to do. They may even sabotage your efforts, even at their own expense.
Compliant Child: This person will do what you want, but very reluctantly and with varying degrees of energy, think of a young teenager being dragged around the shops when they don’t want to go. They may even stop doing what is required as soon as your back is turned.
The point here is that you can stimulate the bad responses in people by treating them as children when this is not required. People respond to the situation you as leader create. This may take a little while to achieve if the culture has been to treat people as children in the past, but that history will soon pass if you are consistent in your behaviour towards people.
Bosses would do well to stimulate another type of child to help them achieve exceptional results:
Stimulate their Natural Child and use this energy to be creative and problem-solve. This child is inquisitive and wants to learn and have fun. This child is good to have around and increases motivation for everyone around.
You are not paying people to be childish, so don’t stimulate the child within, unless you need creativity, learning and fun!
Emotions are catching. Make sure you are sending out effective emotions in your interactions with your team. It’s always wise to remember this famous saying:
“You get the team you deserve.”
Have fun and a great week.