Family by Family

We want to see all families thrive not just survive

Being raised in a start up

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

As Family by Family celebrates its first birthday, I’ve been reflecting on what we as Family by Family staff have achieved. With a fair amount of pride I can safely say that we’ve achieved a huge amount. I’ve also been reflecting on what we can do better.

My biggest challenge since joining Family by Family has been a very typical struggle to balance my work and home lives. I have two young children and a partner who works full time. I need to be explicit here and point out that I love working (part time) and actually think that I’m a better mother for it. However, much like having children, no one can prepare you for being a part of a start up organisation.

Children or no children, it’s a constant juggling act. I’ve needed to find the balance between continually going out of my comfort zone, trying new things and making mistakes in order to move forward with making sure I’ve looked after myself to be able to recover, reflect and create. ┬áIt’s been a year long roller coaster ride and there have been times I’ve wanted to get off. I’m sure I’m not alone.

So what’s kept me on? Support. And in a start up where there is a lack of established systems in place to help guide us, good relationships become crucial. With so much at stake it’s easy to become absorbed in your own work and pressures. Even having the time to think about what others are doing and how they’re feeling can seem impossible but we must. I have also learnt that innovation and creativity requires accepting vulnerability. I wonder if once we begin to accept our own vulnerability as being useful as opposed to a weakness will we become more supportive and understanding of those around us?

I am grateful. I have flexible work hours to suit my family’s needs and I work with a great bunch of people for whom I have much admiration and respect. But as we begin the next phase of our start up and begin to scale, we need to think about sustainability. We want people to mostly enjoy the roller coaster ride and to begin to appreciate vulnerability. What systems can we put in place to ensure that every member of our team feels supported? How do we ensure that a rift doesn’t occur between people out in the field and the people in the office like it does at so many workplaces?

Recently we released our first independent evaluation report of Family by Family. Outcomes for families taking part in Family by Family were overwhelmingly positive. Approximately 90% of families reported that things were going better or heaps better for them. If we want to continue having these great results for families in the long term then we have to support the people working with them. One of our next big challenges is how we might do that.

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