There’s the old saying, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” They quit the environment managers create in their workplace. The most effective businesses in the world know that culture matters! Collins and Porras shared that companies built to last will have “cult-like cultures” (p. 114, 1994). They have a very clear idea of who they are and what it should be like to work in their environment. In their leadership research, Kouzes and Posner found that above all, people want to work for a leader they consider consistent and trustworthy (p. 37, 2012). Who wants to work for the leader who flies off the rails randomly and is happy one minute and angry the next?
But, how does this apply to our families? If our children have “bad managers”, they can’t really “quit.” So, we better make sure we offer them a great culture to grow up in. If your family was like a job, how would you describe your workplace culture? Would it be the kind of place you’d want to work and encourage others to work there also? Purely hypothetical, but if someone approached me and asked, “I’m thinking about joining Thorne Inc., but what’s it like to be a part of that family, and what’s David like as a ‘boss’?” What would my wife say? What would my kids say? There are days I would feel comfortable with the answers and many days I would not.
Finding Your Culture
What words would you use to describe your family culture? Check out the following picture and think about what words you would use to describe your family on a typical day. It’s true that there are some days most of these words would describe our families, but think about what words typically describe your family.
What Describes a Great Work Culture?
We could probably easily describe a negative work culture. It would be inconsistent, fear-based, constantly changing or vague standards, rigid, and isolated. (I admit sometimes this describes my parenting.) Inc. Magazine shared 7 tips to create a great place to work and I believe these apply to our family also. I’ll share 4 on their list. (You can find the article here)
- Be flexible: My compassionate wife always reminds me, if a child makes a reasonable request, why not try to meet them halfway. What parenting points do we win for creating and winning battles?
- Recognize Success: There are seasons when we need to focus on negative behavior, but it’s so easy to get stuck there. How long would you want to work for a boss who only pointed out everything you were doing wrong?! We need to purposefully notice and reward good behavior.
- Build Trust: Can your children trust how you’ll react if they come to you with a problem, ask for help, or get in trouble? Do you follow through and do what you say? (Boy, this is a tough one!)
- Give and Receive Feedback: Do your children feel like their opinion and voice matters in your family. Will you take their feedback seriously? Children, like any employee want to feel like they have a say in what happens to them. This also encourages our children to think and express themselves.
Create Culture Like it’s Your Job
Who you are and how you act automatically create culture. Working culture comes from the top down. It’s established through stated values, but also our actions. And great culture doesn’t happen on accident. Great company’s have committees focused on aligning organizational values and behavior. And even the best companies have to recheck and realign culture every year! Consider the kind of environment you want to create in your family, and start modeling that in your family.
The Real McCoy
On a side note, be careful about your perception of other people’s family culture. Facebook photos and posts do not tell the whole story. It’s so easy to see people’s fun or sweet family through the eyes of social media and wonder what’s lacking in our own family. For example, check out what it took to get a nice Easter family photo in the GIF below. I like writing articles about family because I need to grow in these areas as a parent.