preschool_blocksThere’s a saying that children are meant to teach us lessons that we, as adults, have forgotten.

Inspired by the excellent advice given to new Vancouver Canucks president Trevor Linden by the students of McKay Elementary, we asked our 5-year-old preschooler for his advice for the Canucks.

He quickly outlined a succinct five-point plan using his fingers:

1. Eat well
2. Practice well
3. Play well.
4. Make the playoffs
5. Win the Stanley Cup

How clear and simple a plan is that?

Taking the advice giving from children a step further, we wanted to get back to basics and see how lessons taught to preschoolers can be applied to the world of human resources management.

Lesson 1: Share

  • Preschoolers often want to play with the same toy that someone else is using, so it’s important for them to learn to take turns, share or determine how to play with the toy together. This teaches patience and problem-solving skills.
  • In the working world, sharing involves letting others have access to your knowledge and resources, instead of holding onto them in an attempt to hoard power.

Lesson 2: Listen

  • During circle time, the teachers and students sit together to discuss a theme, read a story or plan the day. While the preschoolers are encouraged to contribute to the discussion, they are also taught to listen and respect what their classmates are saying.
  • The workplace connections are endless. Everyone can make a contribution to the workplace – respect the knowledge and talents of all your colleagues. Co-workers or bosses who behave as know-it-alls, and don’t consider the opinions and suggestion of their peers, superiors or subordinates, will often face barriers in accomplishing their goals as they won’t easily receive cooperation.

Lesson 3: Use Your Words

  • The most basic component of effective communication is speaking – using your words to get your point across or to let others know what you want or need. As a child, you learn to communicate by using simple, clear words. As a leader, you need to use clear, easy-to-understand language to communicate vision, goals and targets, to develop effective relationships and to give constructive feedback. As an employee, you need to speak up about your interests, wants and needs so that your manager can support you. Preferably, communication happens professionally without whining, complaining or tattling.

Lesson 4: Be Safe / Don’t Bite

  • At first we thought this lesson wasn’t necessary to discuss, but then Luis Suarez of Uruguay bit Giorgio Chiellini of Italy during a World Cup match to prove us wrong. Preschoolers are taught that when they are feeling frustrated, instead of hitting/pushing/biting/grabbing/shouting they are to keep themselves and their classmates safe by solving the conflict through talking or taking a breather to calm down.
  • Getting along with your co-workers requires the same skills – it is important to resolve conflict through problem-solving, instead of acting aggressively. In BC, it is required by law to take steps to prevent and address workplace bullying and harassment including investigating incidents and taking corrective action (e.g. 4 month suspension for biting repeat offender Luis Suarez). Don’t be the classmate that is avoided by their peers because of their aggressive and unsafe behaviour.

Whether it be waiting your turn, being nice to your colleagues, or demonstrating patience during a difficult time, there are many HR and leadership lessons to be drawn from the people and situations around us. Ask young ones how they would run a company and you’ll be surprised how simple, clear and humourous their advice can be.


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