As the mother of five, it’s hard to recount how many times I’ve observed lessons my kids are  learning on the playground that will someday seamlessly translate to the boardroom.

As we prepare the next generation for careers in the corporate world, here are a few principles we should all be instilling in our children to ensure they go from good playmates to valuable and productive team members as adults.

Understand expectations and be accountable

When kids head out to the playground, teachers articulate clearly and honestly their expectations, what’s acceptable and the consequences if they don’t follow the guidelines. Educators don’t make children guess what’s expected of them and neither should managers. Talking openly, honestly and in specifics when team members are first on-boarded takes the guesswork out of their role and what’s expected.

Needless to say, we are all human and make mistakes. In that case, it’s important to instill and build into your company culture a sense of empathy and the expectation to acknowledge and apologize for missteps, learn from them and productively move on.

Take your losses with dignity

You win some, you lose some as they say. Learning early on in life how to lose with dignity is a tough, but necessary lesson. What you do with a loss on the kickball field or on the wrestling mat and how you regulate your emotions may eventually determine how you choose to respond when the stakes are higher in the workplace.

Celebrate hard work that results in a workplace win, but remember that learning to adapt as the result of failure or a loss also creates an opportunity for improvement. Losing can amplify reactions, but managers who exhibit a consistent and even-keeled  demeanor and use the moment to understand what didn’t work and why will cultivate a team that is aware that losing graciously can bring you one step closer to success.

Communicate effectively

As kids interact with each other on the playground, they must communicate the rules for the game they are playing, determine who’s next in line for the slide if they both arrive at the same time and listen for when the teacher says it’s time to come in from recess.

In addition, they must learn to understand facial expressions, and read body language in order to better relate to others.

Healthy communication is a key for better team collaboration and leads to effective working relationships. Honing this skill early and being able to clearly and calmly ask open questions ultimately drives better results for your team, clients and your organization.

Have fun!

As the saying goes, if you aren’t having fun, what’s the point? Fun at work matters and can be a key element of employee engagement and retention. Having fun together enables team members to learn each other’s communication styles and be comfortable experiencing the highs and the lows of the work week together.

The building blocks of a positive workplace culture are cultivated as an adult, but some of the best business practices begin on the playground.

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