Sustainable Learning - The Similarities Between Parenting And Category Management

Posted 22nd May

I was channel hopping the other day and came across Supernanny.  If you’ve not watched it, and I forgive you if you’ve never seen it, Supernanny is Jo Frost, who is a British nanny. She is considered “one of America’s foremost authorities on child care”.

The Supernanny programmes involve Jo and a camera crew descending on a family and observing their interactions 24/7. Jo then provides the parents with some guidance on changes that could be made to improve their parenting skills.

The parents try adopting the changes with Jo there to support, then Jo leaves and the camera crew stay behind to observe how the family gets along without her. Jo then returns a few weeks later to provide feedback, and to further support them to fully embrace some of the new behaviours they’re struggling with.

It was a joy to watch as a couple were put through their paces on managing their 3 children. It wouldn’t make much of a programme if they started off as excellent parents – but the increase in confidence and relaxation that often arises as a result of these new ‘processes’ never fail to make a positive impact. Even if sometimes I’m there thinking ‘they’re never going to make it’.

Parenting feels like one of the roles in life we’re very unprepared for – once the baby arrives it doesn’t get any better. Books are read, parenting classes attended, and other parents observed, but when it comes down to it, and you’ve got a crying toddler on your hands, it’s very easy to give in and say “yes you can have that sweet”, rather than persevere with the response you want to give which is “no”. 

I’m sure the parents on Supernanny have read many books on parenting but when it comes down to a battle with their child, all the best practice and advice goes out the window, and emotions kick in – sometimes with potentially dire consequences for both the parent and the child.

What Jo manages to do is break parenting down into all its component parts – or you might say into its component skills or competencies. They’re not being asked to be great at parenting – that’s too daunting a goal. They are simply being asked to improve their competency for communication, distraction, showing interest, setting boundaries, being age aware, listening and/or so on one competency at a time.  

In the programme I watched, one of the children had been diagnosed as autistic, which required further development of some the parents competencies - beyond basic level and even a few into expert level. Competencies where parents without an autistic child could achieve basic competency, and that would be acceptable.

Each programme shows that whilst parents may be good as some of these parenting competencies, there are others that require to be learned, applied and developed. It’s what makes it such a great programme to watch – the competencies requiring development are never the same.

As a result of Jo’s coaching (link to my May coaching blog – Have you taken your eye off the ball on coaching of category management?) rather than be overwhelmed with a screaming child parents now have a number of aspects to parenting to consider -  does this child need more of my attention, less of it, clearer boundaries, a safe place to continue screaming and so on.

Without a competency framework Category Management can be a lot like parenting. By concentrating on category management as a competency, the skill sets that make the most difference get lost or are ignored. For example, one person may excel at influencing but require support on organisational and planning. Another person may be adequate at change management but have a role that requires them to be an expert in it. This understanding, and the resulting improvement, can only be achieved through the adoption of a systematic competency assessment.

In the 2017 FP CatMan report use of a well-structured competency framework is number 6 in our top 19 practices that drive category management and business performance. 68% of leaders used a competency framework – compared to only 22% of followers.

A competency based approach means families on Supernanny move from being overwhelmed and underperforming, to being confident, effective and supportive parents with a truly transformed relationships with their children. Just as a competency based approach to Category Management could significantly transform procurement performance.      

For more information, and a demonstration of the FP Competency framework do contact myself , or any of the Directors.


Tagged by topic: Category Management , Learning and Development

  by Alison Smith

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