Hilary Kinney has advice from the world of project management to help turn your family into an engaged and high performing team
There’s no doubt working dads can bring skills learnt from family to the workplace. Things like patience, empathy, negotiation. But that process can go both ways. Why not import business skills to family life? Hilary Kinney reckons project management is the way to a happier home life. She’s set up the website Project Management for Parents. And she’ll publish a book on the same theme later this year.
She shares her advice on building a high performing, engaged family team.
We all want harmony at home, with family members working together toward the same goal. Wouldn’t it be great if our partners and kids enthusiastically responded to working on something new —like champions of the cause? You can intentionally create an engaged, high-performing family team by setting your mission, team building, explaining why, and involving them in the process.
To build a strong team, everyone needs to know what the goal is and how to get there. For families, this can be clarified with a mission statement. The mission is the overarching goal — what you’re striving to achieve. You can also include core values to illustrate how to achieve that goal. This can be as simple as a list of single words or as complex as a full-fledged essay.
Here’s an example of a simple mission statement: We strive to love and serve others and to seek out adventure.
Have a brainstorming session with the entire family about what you want to include in your mission statement. Once you’ve chosen the words to describe your family, write them down to preserve them. You can simply post your mission statement on a sheet of paper on your fridge, or you can have it laminated or framed and hang it on a wall. If you’re too busy to create your own mission statement, you can simply google “family rules plaque” and buy one that represents your goals.
The next step is to maintain your positive family environment through team-building activities. The goal of team building is to learn how to work together through shared experiences so that people better understand each other and feel connected as a group. When a family has shared experiences that they enjoy, this lays the groundwork for successfully completing other work together.
Team building can be accomplished through icebreakers and indoor and outdoor activities. Icebreakers are questions in which you share insights about each other that you can do during meals or other family times. Indoor activities (like a talent show) and outdoor ones (like a scavenger hunt) take a little more planning, but these shared experiences create family memories that can last a lifetime. Try to do at least one team-building activity a month with your family.
Now that you have a shared mission and are building a positive environment of teamwork, you can get your family ready to tackle something new, like moving to a different town. Communicating the reason behind the move is important; the family will understand why they are doing it and can buy in. If the family is moving to help your parents, it’s important for everyone in the family to know the benefits in order to give them purpose. The family move will have a higher likelihood of success when they support it.
Next, think of a short pitch or “elevator speech” about why you’re moving so that you can share the news with people who are impacted by it. For example, you could say something like “We’re moving because I got a new job, and we’ll be closer to help Grandma and Grandpa. We’ll be sad to leave friends and change schools but excited to try something new.” By articulating the reasons of and benefits for the move, parents help build kids’ desire to support the change.
To encourage the family to become champions of the move, you need to get their input from the beginning. The more involved people are in the planning process, the more engaged and cooperative they’re likely to be. No one wants to be told what to do when they haven’t been consulted first, so discuss the move with your kids early in the process. You can research the area you’re moving to together, look at pictures online, and learn about their future school. To help them feel included, let them have input on your new home, furniture, or the paint colour for their bedroom. Continue to communicate throughout the moving process to see how it’s going for everyone. Discuss it regularly over dinner and provide updates.
Using these engagement and communication techniques can improve teamwork at home. By creating your joint mission and building awareness and support, you can get buy-in up front and encourage family members to embrace new changes.