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Experts in the field of team building recommend establishing a team charter – a document that spells out what it is the team is to accomplish, how, who is accountable for what, the boundaries of responsibilities, and a step by step action plan for achieving success. We charter yachts, planes, and teams, why don’t we charter our families – setting their direction, establishing their course, and determining (ahead of time) what principles will guide them?
Families are teams, too
Your family unit is also a team, with responsibilities to each other and to your community, your church, and your country. Maybe I missed it, but I‘ve never heard of a family establishing a family charter – a “why are we here” document that spells out the family’s goals, responsibilities, expectations, and vision for success as a family. We do this all the time with businesses, why don’t we do this with our family?
Just imagine the good could come from sitting down this weekend with your spouse and children and establishing your own family charter that defines the purpose of your “family team,” how it will work and the expected outcomes? What if you and your family established a set of “directions” that would guide each of you based on your shared values and visions of success for your family as a whole and each family member individually? Would that have any value to you?
The Family Charter
The charter must be specific enough to keep your family on track, but it should not restrictive or cumbersome. And, although there will certainly be disagreements and conflicts about the charter as it’s being developed, remember to use conflict resolution and negotiation skills to deal with any friction.
Make sure your family charter:
- Answers the question, “What is our family’s purpose?”
- Defines the values that will guide your family
- Spells out individual roles
- Sets boundaries
- Establishes the processes needed to manage familial relationships
- Encourages collaboration among family members
- Establishes responsibility and accountability
- Sets up how decisions will be made
- Addresses conflict resolution
- Sets the criteria for how success will be measured
- Identifies resources you’ll need to function successfully
I don’t currently have a family charter
But I’m going to sit down with my wife and children this weekend and open up a discussion. I plan to discuss our finances, our joint and individual goals, and our values. I also plan to discuss what and how we see our purpose as a family unit.
Additional family charter ideas
I’m planning to print ours out, frame it, and place it in a prominent area of our home. It might create discussions with others who visit on how we as a family unit view our role on this earth.
Decide as a group about how to budget for giving and insure that it matches the family’s values.
I think it would be a good idea to have each family member sign the family charter as a symbol of their agreement with the direction we’re heading.
Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail.
I’ll keep you posted on how this goes, but it’s something I’ve been turning over in my mind for quite some time.