Cover image for Mom, Inc. : taking your work skills home
Mom, Inc. : taking your work skills home
Godfrey, Neale S.
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New York : Simon & Schuster, 1999.
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239 pages ; 23 cm
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TX147 .G58 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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If motherhood is the toughest and most rewarding job many women will have, it's also one to which they're least likely to bring their workplace skills.

Every day, women at work supervise, organize, and delegate authority. We create budgets, think creatively, put visions into practice, and work toward clearly defined goals. Yet when we go home and are faced with the needs and demands of managing a household and family, we seem to forget the strategies that worked for us so successfully during the workday.

In "Mom, Inc.," financial expert and working mother Neale Godfrey shows you how to incorporate effective business concepts and procedures into better home and family management. Just as women brought their emotional intelligence into the office, they can now take their work skills -- like outsourcing, delegating, and project management -- and put them to use at home. You can't fire the kids, but you can make them effective members of your household team.

Godfrey gives you all the tools you need, from creating a family mission statement to self-tests, quizzes, and worksheets to help you set priorities and goals. She shows you how

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Godfrey, an AP syndicated columnist and the best-selling author of books like Money Doesn't Grow on Trees (Fireside, 1994), places a business structure, complete with personnel, budgeting, planning, and organizational skills, in the home environment. As a result, she introduces a new way of thinking about household chores. Would the CEO be required to take out the trash, for instance? With the Work-to-Home Translator concept, Godfrey requires the reader to look at home as a series of doable, organized projects, e.g., planning for long- and medium-term savings goals vs. one-time cash outlays such as weddings and dealing with ex-spouses in a constructive way. The final chapters consider workplace reform, balancing family and career, and family-friendly options like flex time. This volume is full of ideas and commonsense advice. An additional purchase for public libraries.ÄLisa S. Wise, Broome Cty. P.L., Binghamton, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 1 Home, Office, and Stress Imagine two women sitting across from each other at a desk. The first one is Alison. At forty-two, Alison is the vice president of a successful manufacturing company. Today she has to make a decision on major capital improvements, including deciding whether to buy $20 million worth of new machinery; she has to review the résumés of several applicants for a new plant manager's position; she has to talk to lawyers and prepare a strategy fora zoning easement that will enable the company to expand an existing plant; and she has to speak to a civic club luncheon for which she has no time, but it might make a difference, when it comes to getting that easement. Right after lunch, she has to head for the airport to catch a plane to the Midwest to tour a plant that might have to be closed down. Across the desk from her is Peg, thirty-four, her secretary. Today Peg has to type up about twenty letters, some of which she'll essentially have to compose, to various suppliers and clients. She has to make copies of Alison's internal company report, bind it, and distribute it to all the company's executives. She has to check on all the changes in Alison's scheduler and make sure they're put into the computer. She has to screen all Alison's calls and appointments, deal politely but firmly with a couple of people who've showed up without appointments, and call to double-check scheduling and reservations to make sure that there aren't any snags on Alison's trip. She also has to learn the new database system the company has decided to install. Which one of these women is under the most stress? The answer: they both have about the same amount of stress. It's a lot, and relatively little of it is related to the demands made on them by work. Each woman is very good at what she does and takes pride in her work. Each has consistently received favorable work evaluations, even commendations. Where does the stress come from? Alison is a single mother of two. Her ten-year-old son, Trevor, has a soccer game for the county championship this afternoon. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Whitney, is starting to skip school and hang out with a group of girls Alison doesn't approve of. Right now, the only thing they're doing that Alison knows about is smoking cigarettes, but it's still cause for serious concern. Alison took time off from work yesterday to talk to her daughter's guidance counselor; to make up for the lost time, she had to bring work home and stay up late into the night to finish it. Peg's husband, Mike, works second shift, so scheduling time for discussing the kids, for sex, or even for a movie or a relaxing conversation is never easy. Vincent, their fifteen-year-old son, who has always done well in school, just brought home two C-minuses and a D on his last report card. Peg sees her dream of his acceptance into a good college jeopardized. Billy, their four-year-old, has been doing well in day care -- but the center is closing down, and Peg is going to have to start searching for a new source of child care. Both of these women know the truth that every woman knows: it's not the work that'll get's everything else. But we're talking about two bright, talented women here -- women who know how to make very complicated things run smoothly and who take legitimate pride in doing it. Why shouldn't they be able to make their home lives run smoothly? We'll get to know Peg and Alison better as we go along. But actually, we're talking about all of us. You, me, every woman who has ever worked for a living, who has ever gone out of the house to take on a new, complex, sometimes hostile world. We have done it. We really have changed the world. We've remade the workplace, we've remade the image of who women are in the world. There's more to be done yet -- a lot more -- but look at what we've done already! We've also exploded the myth of the superwoman, the one who can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan (besides, we also know about all those nitrates and fats these days). Or have we? Maybe we're still putting that same pressure on ourselves to succeed in both worlds. Many of us have husbands who do help out more around the house and who do share the responsibility of child care. a lot more than our fathers did for our mothers. For others of us, unfortunately, that's not the case. And many of us are single parents, coping with work and home all by ourselves, with no help at all. Some help, very little help, no help...but here's the bottom line. Home is still our responsibility. Ultimately, it's the one that most of wouldn't trade for anything, but still it's the one that drives us the craziest and brings out complicated and ambivalent feelings. * * * In this book, we'll be dealing with the problems around dealing with the problems of our families. I'm not going to tell you how to help a troubled teenager do better in school. I'm going to show you how we can make ourselves better equipped to deal with that and other problems. I'll be giving you reports from the front: interviews with women who have been there, women who have taken on the job of CEO in their own homes and project manager for the projects they've created. I've changed their names and some details of their lives, and in a couple of cases they're composites, but essentially, these are women who've made it work and who have taken the time to think about what they've done and how it's worked for them. Mom, Inc. is a self-help book for women who have management and organizational skills that they're not fully utilizing for the biggest management job of all. It's a book about how we can bring our home lives and our work lives back into a state of synchronicity and how we can bring home some of the coping mechanisms and organizing principles we've learned, developed -- or innovated -- at work. I'm going to show you that this is what you know, this is what you can do, these are tools you already have, and here's a new way of using them. There are two kinds of books on organizing your home, your life, your kids. In the first, you get doctrines propounded by fearsomely efficient Home Dictators, setting up a kind of Brady Bund of routines, rules, and doctrines guaranteed to obliterate all personalities and individual foibles, and create a gleaming, sanitized paradise. There aren't a bunch of laughs in these books -- there's no time for them, unless they're scheduled in. In the second, the message goes something like this: You might as well laugh and enjoy the total chaos that you're muddling through, because you can't really do anything about it, and anyone who thinks you can is an uptight, humorless Home Dictator who's never had any experience with real life. Well, in my heart, I'm with the muddlers. It's more fun, and instinct tells me that the folks who tell us to just muddle through are probably coming closer to the way things really are. But when it comes to our children, what then? On the one hand, we can't afford to just leave it to chance. And on the other hand, we all need our sense of humor more than ever. Can you have it both ways? In this book, I say you can. You have to laugh; you have to accept that your plans are not always going to work out like clockwork. But you can have a master plan, and you can make it work. Copyright © 1999 by Neale S. Godfrey/Children's Financial Network, Inc. Chapter 2 How Come the Workplace Seems So Structured and Home Seems So Chaotic? Because there aren't any four-year-olds running around the workplace? That is part of it. There's no getting around it, home is a place with a lot of loose ends, and that's as it should be. The loose ends of home are creativity, exploration, self-expression, and the fact that not everyone is working from the same mission statement. Your four-year-old's mission statement, if he could express it, would be different from yours. Your fifteen-year-old's mission statement -- if she's talking to you on any given day -- would certainly be different. But perhaps that's not what makes home and the workplace so different. Everyone always has his or her agenda. Your company might have a mission statement, but unless you're one of the owners of the company, it's probably not the one you would have written up. The computer software programmer, the stock clerk, and the chief buyer in your company would probably all have different mission statements, too, if you asked them. We all see life from our own point of view. There's a story about an actor who got a part in a Broadway play -- the classic A Streetcar Named Desire, which starred a young Jessica Tandy and Marlon Brando. In the last scene, after Tandy's character suffers a complete mental collapse, she has to be taken to the hospital by a doctor, accompanied by two attendants. The actor was to play one of the attendants. "I've got a part in a new play!" he told a friend. "It's all about this guy who comes to take a lady to a nuthouse." We all tend to think of ourselves as the center of the universe, and why shouldn't we? The difference is, that actor had a director who did understand the overall picture, and every company has someone in charge who knows its central mission and knows how the computer programmer, the stock clerk, and the chief buyer fit into it. This is what you need at home. You don't need to create a mini-dictatorship, but you do need to have one person who'll do the overall thinking, who will have a master plan and understand how everyone else fits into it. You need a CEO. And that CEO is you. You've got all the qualifications for the job. You know all the personnel better than anyone else. You have the vision, you have the brains, you have the experience, and you have the mandate. If you're a single mom, you're definitely the only one who's qualified. If you're part of a couple, and your husband is one of those who has woken up and discovered that we're almost in the twenty-first century, and men's and women's roles have changed...well, you're one of the lucky ones (fortunately, such husbands are not as rare as they once were). But you're still the one who knows how all the parts fit together. And if you take over the job of household CEO, you'll get things done the way you want them done. And it doesn't matter whether you're a CEO or a waitress out in the workplace. You can still be that CEO at home, and you can still adapt workplace skills for home use. A New Way of Organizing The big news in the workplace over the past couple of decades has been the emergence of women as a significant force. We've had the opportunity-to show what we could do, and we've done it. We've made the workplace a different place, and a better place. Here's another big change that has occurred in the workplace over the past couple of decades. Modern management strategy has moved from a process-oriented workforce to a project-oriented workforce. Work used to be built around a process. Big manufacturing companies made the same thing -- cars, steel girders, stuffed panda bears -- and people, in one way or another, were plugged into that process. You might start on the assembly line, then move up to foreman, then move up to supervisor; or you might start in an entry-level office job and move up to a higher-level executive function. But basically, you were still going to be involved with the same cars, or girders, or panda bears, as long as you worked for the company. At home, it meant you lived in the same house, in the same neighborhood, and with the same neighbors. It meant you didn't get divorced. Well, those days are gone forever. My own work life has bounced me around like a pinball, and I'm not unusual. Americans today average seven different careers between entry into the workforce and retirement. The rest of our lives follows the same checkered pattern as our careers. We move around, sometimes from one part of the country to another. Sadly, we do get divorced; sometimes we remarry and create stepfamilies with special challenges of their own. Process vs. Project You know that younger generation? The one that's always going to the dogs? The one that doesn't stand a chance of competing in the world the way we did because they're too lazy, too unprepared, with the wrong attitude, wrong schooling, no motivation? That younger generation, it seems, has been around for a long time. According to The Frugal Housewife, by Mrs. Child, written in 1832: The fact is, our young girls have no home education. When quite young, they are sent to schools where no feminine employments, no domestic habits, can be learned; and there they continue till they "come out" into the world. After this, few find any time to arrange, and make use of, the mass of elementary knowledge they have acquired; and fewer still have any leisure or taste for the inelegant, every-day duties of life. Makes you wonder how we survived at all, doesn't it? Well, surprise! Today's young women are great! They're educated, they're motivated, they're street-smart, they're ethical, and they really are ready to get out there and take the world by storm. Many of them will make their mark in the business world before they settle down to the "inelegant, every-day duties" of family life. Some of them will then decide to cut back on their work commitment, while others (over 50 percent) will continue to balance work and family -- and to do it well. A recent study by Susan Seliger in the December/January 1998 issue of Working Mother magazine suggests that those mothers who stay in the workplace feel, more strongly than ever, that they can excel at work without sacrificing their home lives. Seliger's survey found that 92 percent of Working Mother's readers who responded to the survey considered themselves either "ambitious" or "highly ambitious" in the workplace, and by an overwhelming margin those ambitious women saw themselves as proud of their work and happy with their marriages and families. Seliger points out how far we've come in this regard, from a time when even if women did work, it was considered unseemly for them to admit to anything as unladylike as ambition, because ambitious women were considered hard, cold, ruthless, single-minded. She quotes Janice Steil, professor of psychology at the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, as saying, "the old stereotype that ambitious women become more like men and lose their nurturing qualities is just not accurate." Steil's research has shown no correlation, one way or the other, between ambition and nurturing qualities. The one simply does not get in the way of the other. But for all their skill and ambition and nurturing qualities, it still seems that far too many young women will find themselves mired in the same routine that their mothers and grandmothers established. Too many of them will not have changed the way they manage their households, and too many of them will continue to see an increasing divergence between their sense of accomplishment in the workplace and that same sense at home. It doesn't have to happen. A generation of women has conquered the world of business in spite of having few role models. They did it with courage and perseverance, and they have become the mentors and role models for the younger women who followed them. So who are we to look to for our role models at home? We don't have to look any farther than ourselves in our business lives. Today, business strategy is centered around goals rather than routines. Here's how that works. Once you've identified a goal, you then create a project to meet that goal. That means figuring our a strategy, and putting together a team to carry out that strategy. You might need some experts for the team that aren't from your company, so you go out and bring them in for this project -- you outsource. Then, when the project is finished, you critique it, you improve the rough edges, and you go on to something new -- new projects, new teams, new strategies, all connected to an overall master plan for the organization, but each one with its own challenges and rewards. This new way of looking at business coincided directly with the infusion of women into the workforce. Coincidence? Maybe not. Men like hierarchies and pecking orders. Women like to get together and work things out by negotiation and cooperation, though we can crack the whip, too, when we need to. So Why Don't We Do It at Home? Why do we get bogged down at home, when we're so good in the workplace? Why does it all seem routine? Maybe it's because we've bought into a lot of myths about home. For instance: You can't fire your family. Well, that's true to an extent. You can't, of course. You can divorce your husband, and that happens to many of us, sadly. But you can't divorce your kids. Sure, but what does that mean? That you're locked into a rut, an endless process? It shouldn't. At home, you handle more personnel changes than the human resources manager of a Fortune 500 company. Last year, your employee pool included a stubborn two-year-old; this year, he's been replaced by an energetic and inquiring three-year-old. That sulky sixteen-year-old you were closer to killing than firing seems to have taken off of her own accord, and suddenly your team has been augmented by an intelligent and responsible seventeen-year-old, and you realize it'll break your heart when she leaves the firm next year to head for college. We hear a lot about all the different hats women wear, all the different job descriptions we have at home: accountant, buildings and grounds chief, chauffeur, cleaning woman, comptroller, day care worker, fashion consultant, gardener, guidance counselor, health care provider, judge, psychologist, repairperson, transportation supervisor, travel agent, veterinarian. We could probably add another ten jobs to the list with no trouble at all. But it's all a little condescending, isn't it? We don't need to invent all those different made-up titles to make us understand that being a mom is a varied and challenging job, or that it will keep us as busy as all get-out! Besides, as CEO of the household, naturally it's our responsibility to make sure everything gets done, either by delegating or by doing it ourselves. It's not making up a bunch of fake job descriptions that will make the difference in building our self-esteem, in giving us a sense of purpose, in creating a work environment at home that will be fulfilling, rewarding, and most of all, manageable. It's understanding the nature of work and the nature of management, and learning how to identify, plan, prioritize, and manage projects. Copyright © 1999 by Neale S. Godfrey/Children's Financial Network, Inc. Excerpted from Mom, Inc.: Taking Your Work Skills Home by Neale S. Godfrey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Part I Taking It Home
Chapter 1 Home, Office, and Stress
Chapter 2 How Come the Workplace Seems So Structured and Home Seems So Chaotic?
Chapter 3 So Where Do We Start?
Part II Identifying Projects
Chapter 4 What's a Project?
Chapter 5 The Regular Chores
Chapter 6 The Gotcha! Chronicles
Chapter 7 You Can't Fire Your Family
Chapter 8 A Family Mission Statement
Chapter 9 When It's Not Important That You Do It
Chapter 10 Office Techniques at Home
Chapter 11 The Kid Projects
Chapter 12 Budget Projects
Chapter 13 Holiday Projects
Chapter 14 Future Projects
Chapter 15 Learning Projects
Part III Family Friendly
Chapter 16 The Other Side of the Equation
Chapter 17 Changing the Norm
Chapter 18 Family, Inc.