Design a family culture that is based on core values and leadership principles. Collaboratively create a home environment that nurtures strong relationships, develops good character, builds trust, reinforces respect, fosters growth, encourages empowering communication and generates quality time.
The family culture is a microcosm of the business culture. The same elements that allow for a cohesive business culture also exist within the family – knowing purpose, mission, values and vision; clarifying roles, building trust, keeping commitments, achieving goals and producing results. Each member of the family, just as in business, plays an important role in building a strong culture.
Building the ideal family environment takes time and commitment. Finding the time to design your family culture is often the greatest challenge. This process has been developed to be fun, engaging and time sensitive. Created around four, 60 minute family sessions following dinner, this interactive process will generate inspiring communication, clarity around family values and a family culture that is built on a strong foundation.
Print one Family Culture Place Setting for each member of your family, starting with week one (see models below). After dinner, set the table with the Family Culture Place Settings for “Designing Your Family Culture.”
Share with your family that you wish to invest the time to build a strong family culture that lives by effective leadership principles and agreed upon values. Explain that family culture represents the attitudes, behaviors, expectations, and traditions of your family. Ask for everyone’s commitment to a four week process and encourage everyone to brainstorm the benefits to designing a family culture. After your brainstorming session, select one day for the next four weeks that works with each family member’s schedule. Everyone will need to commit to approximately 1.5 to 2 hours for both dinner and the Designing Your Family Culture session. It’s okay to make the dinner preparation simple and fun, i.e. order carry out from a favorite restaurant or have pizza delivered. This way you can focus on family time versus food preparation and extensive clean-up.
Prior to starting the week one topic of Communication, establish family agreements to create an environment of trust and respect. Establishing, agreeing to and living the agreements will help to create open and productive conversation.
- Turn off and remove all distractions (i.e. TV, home and cellular phones, IPOD, GameBoy, Stereo, Blackberry, laptop, etc.)
- Allow everyone to be right – create open communication (Avoid negative consequences due to honest sharing)
- Full participation
- Be present – choose to stay in the moment
- Create your own agreement(s) as a family prior to beginning the process
NOTE: Weeks one, two, and three will be completed individually and discussed as a family. Week four is designed to combine weeks 1-3 to create family values, a family mission, and family goals.
Week One: Communication
Week one is designed to get the family talking. Encourage fun, free flow dialogue as each person shares thoughts, memories and important activities. Involvement and interaction are the keys to making your first session a success. The questions on your first place setting are:
- What do I love most about my family?
- What are my favorite memories?
- What activities do I enjoy doing with my family?
- What is important about family communication?
- What improvements will I make to improve communication?
Week Two: Values
Values represent what matters most to your family. They identify a person’s priorities and guide your daily actions and decisions. Allow each person to identify their own values and share their reason for choosing each value. There are no right or wrong answers – please avoid any tendency to second guess, influence or change another person’s values. You will create your combined family values in week four.
Week Three: Mission
Your family mission is a statement that creates clarity around your family’s purpose and reason for existence. Each person will complete the questions individually and then discuss the answers as a family. The responses will be used to create a family mission in week four. Encourage everyone to complete an individual mission statement as well.
Week Four: Values, Mission, and Goals
Review the previous three weeks that have been completed around communication, values, and mission. Summarize the elements of communication, identify your family’s top 4-6 values and create your family mission statement. Create family goals that live by the important elements discussed around communication, values and mission.
Designing Your Family Culture provides a process for improving communication and establishing strong values within your family. Taking the time to involve everyone, to remain completely present and listen intently is just as important as any outcome that will be achieved in week four. Building a strong family culture is not an event; it is an ongoing process that will continue to change and evolve – just like your family!
Sources: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey
The Path by Lori Beth Jones
The 8th Habit by Stephen R. Covey