For this year’s International Men’s Day, The Phoenix Group, the UK’s largest consolidator of closed life assurance funds, wanted to give their guys a bit of extra support and recognition. Working with them, we produced 3 different dad-specific workshops. By far the most popular was Practicing Patience for Dads, for which we had far more people show up than had even registered!
This is a new workshop for us, and one that David Willans, Founder of Being Dads and our resident dad expert and coach, has wanted to run for a long time. He’s been on his own personal journey to go from ‘angry dad’ to ‘patient dad’. In fact, it was this trigger that led him to set up Being Dads nearly four years ago.
From his work with dads, he knows that patience can be a big challenge, especially for busy professional dads. Many working dads know only too well that empty feeling you get after rushing home to see the kids. What starts with good intentions to have a meaningful connection at the end of the day, often turns into a forced march through the tasks to bed time, with the inevitable frustrations and fall outs that accompany it. That and the often anger-triggering school run.
Yet few companies recognise that challenges such as these flow over into our working lives and impact who we are and how we communicate with others every day at work. The Phoenix Group wanted to support their parents in these ‘out of hours’ areas of their lives. When asked to identify what had been most useful about the workshop, delegates reported ‘I have a page full of ideas to try’; ‘useful techniques to try, visualising the day ahead, speaking on their level, using the hands technique’ and ‘hearing the experiences of other dads, recognising similar stories’.
The question is why all organisations are not proactively supporting dads to deal with these stresses?
- Perhaps it’s because of concerns about blurring the boundaries between work and home, and not wanting to be criticised for that. Yet with so many of us attached to work 24/7 through our mobiles, this argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
- Perhaps it’s because the ‘non-work-critical’ areas of support just don’t make it up the list of priorities. Yet if we want to raise the productivity of our work force, helping them feel in control, fulfilled and more focused at work is surely a strong route forward.
- Perhaps it’s because this type of support steps outside the traditional ‘paid for’ basket of employee perks and benefits. After all, it’s more about personal and family behaviours, values and norms. But if mental health is as important as many businesses claim, surely such a straightforward and widely felt slice of that broad gambit is a simple way to start?
Whatever the reason, the 1-hour Practicing Patience for Dads was in high demand and well-reviewed. So much so that a number of the dads are working with David to help him develop a longer-course on patience. Two weeks of ten minutes a day to make their family lives calmer, and as a result, filled with more love, richness and laughter. Would you want to work with that guy, or the stressed out, tightly wound bloke who deep down feels guilty because he knows he isn’t being the dad he wants to be? I know which one I’d want on my team.