What values guide us and our work? It’s a question that goes to the heart of an organization and its workers. And it is a question that the CIF staff got to ask themselves and each other recently.
Last month we gathered as a whole-staff team for our annual retreat. This retreat was financed thanks to the money CIF received from the Stars Impact Award at the start of the year. This is the major time each year that staff from all three of our offices are able to come together for training and team-building. We traveled together from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and then had three days of relationship building and training. We grew stronger as a group and as professionals helping Cambodian children. One of the highlights for many of the staff was the opportunity we had to work collaboratively to revise CIF’s core values.
Participation is itself a core value of development work. Based on the idea that all people have a voice and ideas about how to live their lives in community, participation is a collective approach to research and decision making. In the past Children in Families has been predominantly running social work based programs and participation has occurred within the context of individual case management and strength based care. However, recently CIF leadership has been considering ways that we can make participation more a part of CIF. This has included developing child-led assessment processes, and bringing participatory approaches into decision making among the staff too. We hope that working collaboratively within our staff allows participation to become a more natural approach as we work with communities and families. And through our modelling, we hope that families also learn how to make decisions collaboratively.
Using games and group activities, staff were given the opportunity to get to know each other and to learn about their personal communication and teamwork styles. From this foundation, we explored that idea that the values and beliefs that guide our own personal lives will be the values and beliefs that we bring to our workplace. These values determine the ways that we interact with our team and the families that we work with. We were given the opportunity individually to brainstorm the values that were important to us. We shared this with a small group and then brought the values to the whole team, and collated and discussed the answers. We listened to each other, learned from each other, and saw which values we held in common. It is these values that reflect who we are personally and as a team and these are the values that determine how we work best together. CIF Leadership is collating these results, we hope to build a common, agreed-upon list of the values that guide our work as the Children in Families team. That will further build staff ownership of their own work – and commitment follows ownership!
Taking the time to build a stronger, healthier team team, equips us to do the work that inspires and drives all of us the most – to placing vulnerable children in loving families.