Sitting in our favourite coffee shop this morning, Joyce (my wife) and I are sharing laughter and stories (we do this most mornings) about our life together and how our life has not changed very much since we were both in our mid-30s. Our routines, how we support our two daughters and the standards and principles we live by have not really changed very much at all. We like to think it keeps us young and we would not have it any other way, however, there are other reasons our life is the way it is.
We are a close-knit family of four adults living together. We have always lived 100s of miles away from our families – originally due to my first career in the Army – afterwards settling in the UK in East Anglia (our extended families live in the North). We are not just a family; we are a team.
In this article, I would like to share the principles of our teamwork as a family and how this has been transferable to my work environment.
Our Family Values
- Respect – is not basedon age or position or by right. It is something to be earned each day. Each one offering respect first.
- Privacy – wevalue the time spent on our own, especially privacy, and always knock on the door before entering bedrooms.
- Courtesy – we show politeness in our attitude and behaviour towards each other, no matter what time of the day. I always open the door for my wife and daughters.
- Equality & Fairness – we all have the same status and value within our family and have the same choices or chances. Due to the individual needs of any family member at any specific time, we may not always be equal with our time, but we will always be fair towards each other.
- Compassion & Kindness – we think beyond ourselves when weconsider how we will support each other to get our work done. We always look to lighten the load of another family member.
5 things that make for great Teamwork (that makes the family work)
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. When we are together, we can always find something in the situation to laugh at, often at our own expense. We enjoy making each other laugh. There is rarely a day when Joyce does not reduce me to tears of laughter.
- Each to their own skills, expertise, and knowledge one of the luxuries of being together for such a long time is that we all recognise each other skills, expertise, and knowledge in specific areas – none of us think we need to know everything to operate effectively and often we defer to each other when needed.
- Looking out for each other: We all depend on each other and recognise this. If one of our family is not at home, we notice the difference.
- Routines & Traditions. We adhere to our routines and follow our traditions often without realising we are doing them. Our routines make us more effective, and we celebrate our traditions so that our principles, beliefs, and standards continue.
- Others before you. In everything we do we put the others first. As parents, Joyce and I have always (without exception) put ourselves last, this has included where we live, a change of career, and where we go on holiday.
Having a daughter (Bettina our youngest) who copes with a learning disability and autism, has strengthened our family relationships, and has made us even tighter as a unit as well as bringing us so much joy.
There are five things Bettina needs from her family and these things have not changed since she was a child:
- Calm – Bettina cannot cope with tension, so we self-regulate our behaviour.
- Consistency – how we act and how we behave is always the same.
- Clarity – we work very hard to explain what we are doing and what our plans together are in a way that Bettina will understand. ‘B’ always needs to know what is next.
- Unconditional Love – no matter what happens we will show our love and affection without conditions.
- Self Esteem – we look for ways to help Bettina promote her self-worth and dignity. We believe this makes her happy and confident.
“The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tyres” -Writer Dorothy Parker
It is a Sunday morning and if you are one of our neighbours and you look out your window you will likely see the four of us returning from the weekly shop. We all pile out of the car, I open the door for Joyce and our daughters, bring in the weekly shop, then Joyce and Jennifer put the food items away and Bettina sorts her own stuff out in the sitting room. We have tried to keep to the same routine for the last 25 years since moving here, and by happy coincidence this has become a tradition.
I believe that the principles of our teamwork as a family have also been very transferable to my work environment. Do they fit with your team? Related: Here is my company’s ‘code’ The Dosh Leadership Code – Leadership in the Raw