How to Strengthen the Family Team

By Wendy B. White

 

My kids were raised in a somewhat-unconventional household. When they came home from school, large sheets of flip chart paper would greet them, hung on all the walls in the living room.

I was in the middle of it all, furiously typing notes from the previous day’s event, or meeting with coworkers around the dining room table to brainstorm creative solutions. In our household, I had more Koosh Balls, Hula-Hoops, and miscellaneous toys and puzzles than my kids did. This was my life as an outdoor, adventure-based leadership and team development consultant.  This scene was unusual back then. It is commonplace in today’s COVID work world.

Family Team-Building

Over the years, here at Continuum, we realized that many of the concepts used to form and build teams and develop leaders in the workplace are transferable to the family unit.

For instance, from my knowledge of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and personality tests, I knew that if my introverted son was acting up, he needed space to be by himself and not be bothered. My daughter, an extrovert, would bring home her latest boyfriend and ask me to “personality type” him so that he would know how to better interact with her.

As I implemented team-building concepts such as communication agreements, conflict resolution, decision-making, and diversity appreciation to build my family team, it made home more harmonious and strengthened our relationship. This bond has continued when my kids moved away and our home team became a “virtual” team.

Family IS the Ultimate Team

After years of taking teams through ropes courses and other adventures, we began to realize something else. Your family, however you define them, is in fact, the ultimate team—the team you love the best, the team you are the most embedded and invested in, and the team that will, in the end, be the last team left standing.

As we all learn how to balance life and work in the COVID Era, we wanted to share some tips and tools we found especially valuable for managing the home team.

How to Build the Family Team

  • Honor the “Platinum Rule.” Treat others the way they want to be treated,  not as you want to treat them or as you feel they should be treated.
  • Respect Differences. Just like in work teams, every family member has unique needs and personality preferences. Honor them.
  • Develop Family Community Agreements. Just as you would with a project team, set agreements for how to operate. Discuss who needs what to be able to live and play (and work) in the same space together amicably. For instance:
    • We will all have dinner together at the table 4 times a week.
    • For a half-hour each day, there will be personal quiet time.
    • If you are angry, you will speak up respectfully; others will listen fully before responding.
  • Define Roles and Responsibilities. Running a household is everyone’s responsibility. That said, divide chores, rotate responsibilities, say, “Thank you.”
  • Institute Family Check-Ins. Conduct regular team huddles to share what’s going on emotionally, how you’re coping (or not), and what support you need.
  • Have Fun Together. Play is powerful medicine. One night a week, or more, host a family game night, a dance-off, popcorn and a movie, and more.

Do You Need More Ideas?

  • Learn how to build a cohesive (family) team during COVID by reading and transferring some of the key concepts presented in this Forbes article.
  • Learn about an alternative to “command and control” leadership to use with the family team from Steven Vannoy, author of The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My Children.