Getting management feedback from your kids

Last night on our drive home from school I started asking my 11 year old about his science fair project. I asked him what it was going to be on, what supplies he needed, what was he going to do if his idea didn’t work, what was he going to draw on his poster board, … and he ended up yelling at me “I’M GOING TO DO IT, OK?!”

Then this morning I had a whole series of 1:1 meetings with folks on my team … and I caught myself asking them questions in much the same way. How many people are coming to the doc sprint? Where will it be? Do you have a theme? Did you email the developer teams?

Now Janet, the one planning the doc sprint, didn’t yell at me. But was she just being nice?

So I have some theories:

  • Maybe it’s ok to ask co-workers those questions and not your kid. (I do really want and need to know that information about the doc sprint …)
  • Maybe my way of asking questions is really abrasive (or giving feedback on what I think needs to be done via questions is abrasive) and my kid just feels more free to tell me so.
  • Maybe my kid feels like he’s behind on his science fair project and was just defensive. I expect my co-workers to have answers to those types of questions (and they do) but perhaps I haven’t taught my kid to think like that yet.

It made me think that I need to make sure I get more feedback from those I work with … especially since most of these conversations happen through a video camera.

Oh, and the science fair project is coming along quite nicely. So’s the doc sprint.

5 Replies to “Getting management feedback from your kids”

  1. Boy do I kow what you mean. When I ask Thomas (nearly 10) about stuff he’s doing in school – if only out of interest – his answer is something similar.

    And occasionally when looking for opportunities to explain cool stuff (the latest example was photosynthesis, last weekend) I’ll ask him a question, and he’ll answer “you’re not going to give me a long speech, are you?”

    So I know I’m pushy & long-winded. Thanks son 🙂


  2. Do you start off by asking your team people to tell you what they’ve been working on and have planned before you start peppering them with questions? I think questions in context of their narrative would be less infuriating 🙂

    This is why I liked doing 1:1s with a bit of structure and pre-written notes, such as what I outline here:

    It cut through the vast majority of those sorts of questions and let us really focus down on blockers and decisions rather than spending a lot of time on simple status reporting.

    1. Well, yes, of course. I am asking questions about the things they have told me about. 🙂

      I like your list of things to talk about. I would also add a few minutes to just chat and ask how the other person is doing. I think that’s really important for teams that don’t see each other much.

  3. One possibility is that kids think you are not respecting their abilities when so many questions were asked. But in case, my son (15) just think I am dumb going through all these questions :).

  4. I think the issue here is one of being put on the spot. I distinctly dislike, for example, being pressed to set a deadline. I’m not sure if it’s because of my personality type, but I’ve found from experience I’m really bad at it and consequently find it a sure fire route to embarassment (at least, I perceive not making a deadline as embarassing). The alternative of course is to massively over estimate. This would certainly work but seems dishonest to me – I genuinely don’t think it would take that long (but I’m always wrong!).

    The defensive point is certainly valid as well. It’s very hard to pose a question like you described without it carrying some implicit value judgement (either now or in the future). Preempting the value judgement with “I’ll get it done, ok”, is a natural response.

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