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5 Universal “Mom Sayings” and How they Teach Us to Manage Others

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and at RCS we send our love to not only the mothers directly in our lives, but the mothers who will spend this weekend hard at work to ensure those celebrating the special day have a wonderful experience.

The funny thing about moms is that there are some sayings and lessons that they all teach their children, and while they may be lessons that seem long-forgotten or ignored, they are lessons that we all carry with us for the rest of our lives. Without even realizing it we use these lessons as we interact with others—especially individuals that we manage. Here are five examples of things your mother likely said to you at least once, and how they apply to managing others.

“If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything At All"

We are starting with an easily applicable lesson with this first one—managers who use positive communication; treating their employees with respect and kindness are ones that people not only enjoy working for but want to go above and beyond to do their best work for.

Positive communication is often misunderstood because many people think it means that you deny anything negative or stick your head in the sand if something negative arises. That’s not true. It’s not a Pollyanna view of the world. Positive communication means that you take the time to communicate in an informed, relevant, and beneficial manner. Positive communication is taking responsibility for your own words and actions through productive conversations focused on a positive outcome.

Like positive thinking, positive communication is contagious and brings out the best in you and everyone around you. You will find that through the power of positive communication you have more gratifying personal relationships, be able to resolve customer service opportunities effectively, and successfully coach employees if you are in a management position.

“When You’re A Mom You Can Make the Rules"

As a manager, it’s important that you can garner respect from your employees but that also means setting a good example for your employees.

The most effective managers clearly communicate their expectations thereby helping employees with their professional growth and development. Savvy leaders know that open lines of communication and clear expectations helps to set the tone that the manager has the employee’s best interest in mind. If employees see leaders holding themselves to high standards, it can inspire trust and it provides a clear model of behavior to emulate. Sharing appropriate and relevant information builds a collaborative environment and encourages personal investment. Engaged employees are likely to stay.

“Don’t Forget to Say Please and Thank You”

Maya Angelou famously said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Minding your manners with your employees, especially when it comes to conducting difficult conversations is crucial.

According to author Andrew Sobel, the easiest way to turn a tough conversation around is to ask “power questions”. Power questions allow you to turn a conversation from negative to positive and shift the focus back to the other person and give you some valuable time to gather your thoughts. For example, when an employee comes to you with guns blazing, it helps to take a step back and ask questions such as “Can you please tell me more about this problem?” (This is a neutral tone use of words and demonstrates your interest, helping to explore the problem more deeply.) “How do you think things got to this point?” (This may uncover the origins of the problem, including things that may have exacerbated it.) Keep in mind when asking these “power questions” your body language, tone and word must all carry the same message, or you may run the risk of being misunderstood. For example, “How do you THINK things got to this point?” is much different than a non-emphasized ‘you’ in the same sentence.

“Don’t Make me Come Over There”

When a mother uses the phrase “don’t make me come over there,” it gives the child an opportunity to think about the situation at hand and empowers them to right a negative action before suffering a consequence. This same scenario applies to managing others as well. -- The trick to managing others is knowing when to step in and when to let a situation play itself out allowing employees to learn or stretch their skill set.

As a manager, do you instill a sense of trust in your employees and the decisions they make when it comes to their day-to-day job function ? Trust is the key component to a motivating work environment and will provide a strong anchor to the job for the employee. If an employee feels empowered and trusted, they will feel valued.

“Eat Your Veggies”

Every mom wants their child to grow up to be a healthy, happy, contributing member of society, and one way to ensure their child is healthy is to encourage them to eat their veggies and other nutritious meals.

As a manager, we hope you don’t have to remind your employees, literally to eat their vegetables, but we do hope that you encourage your employees to grow professionally. Offering your employees opportunities to grow in their position and also grow into leadership roles within your organization is not only the mark of a successful manager, but also a successful company.

The most successful companies use training as an opportunity to grow their employees, as well as their club , and just as vegetables help children grow into healthy adults, well-trained employees mean higher member/customer satisfaction. Since 40-60% of new members/customer come from happy members/customers by encouraging their friends to join their club, your club grows – like a garden! Yes, Veggie pun intended. ;)

On behalf of all of us at RCS, we remind you to thank your mothers for all the lessons they have taught you that have shaped you into the person you are today. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, grandmothers, stepmothers, aunts who act like moms, and the dads pulling double duty. Thanks to you all for the great lessons!


Whitney Reid Pennell, president of the RCS Hospitality Group (formerly Reid Consulting Services) is a celebrated management consultant, educator and speaker. RCS, the creators of the Food and Beverage Boot Camp™, specialize in operations consulting, strategic planning, food and beverage management, and training programs.

For more information, phone (623) 322-0773; or visit the RCS website at

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Whitney Reid Pennell
 Founder & President

Whitney Reid Pennell is the founder and president of the award-winning RCS Hospitality Group (formerly Reid Consulting Services). She is a published author and widely praised seminar leader, with over 20 years of club operations management and consulting experience. 

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