It’s A Team. Not A Family.


Companies are not actually families.

That’s something that gets rolled out in almost every business sooner or later, people want to talk about their employees as being a family, and it’s just not the truth.

When you’re managing a workforce of over a thousand retail employees, the truth is – you are not a family.

The truth is, you have thousands of young people, who are juggling jobs and university and a million other things that are on their minds and you have to help them succeed at their job, succeed in their careers, and remain well enough that they can be an active part of the business.

But you also have people who need to come on board with the rules, work under management, deal with issues and resolutions, and be an asset to the culture.

If you’ve ever tried managing your family through a Christmas lunch, you’ll get where I’m coming from here. It’s tough. There’s too many hurt feelings, stepped on toes and people who want more leeway.

When you treat people like a family, you’re letting people think of themselves as being family members. Relaxed, forgiving, without the responsibility of getting the job done. That’s why we use a different word. We welcome people to the Flare team. That’s a huge difference.

When you talk about a team, you’re looking at a group of people who have come together to work together to win together – all on a common mission, all playing the same game.

People understand the rules, and they understand the role that those rules play in everyone’s success. People understand the role that every single one of them plays in the winning season.

To move away from the family mentality, it’s important to shift employees’ sense of belonging from “we all work at the same place” to “we share the same values and purpose.” Of course, uniting employees through values and purpose means that these elements must be clearly defined and communicated in the first place. Netflix’s Culture Deck is the holy grail here, and it is one of the main reasons the company was able to thrive and innovate when its competitors could not. In our case, we think of values on a company-wide level, but also emphasize the importance of purpose on the team level. Why does this team and product exist? What are we trying to achieve— beyond sales targets? What is my role in helping us get there? If employees don’t have a clear and shared sense of the goals they’re working toward and why, the team suffers from both a performance and culture perspective.

– From Quartz:

The harshest example of what happens when you push the “Family” concept instead of the “Team” concept is that when you have to let somebody go, for whatever reason, you immediately shake the perception of your company and your culture for everyone who still works with you.

Because if there’s one thing we can all agree on, you don’t fire family members. When you do, you set a reminder that it’s only a family as far as it suits you. That’s crushing for morale and it’s crushing for culture.

The teams who can win through in every single sport are the ones who know what it means to be a team. It’s hard. It’s serious. It’s a group of people who have come together to play a game, but who recognise that it’s about far more than that. Most people who follow a sport are going to agree that their team has to be a smooth, functioning machine in order to win.

Most people who have a happy family are going to agree that trying to bring that home just wouldn’t work. There’s a time and a place for each structure, and it’s right where they are now.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t be looking after and caring for your staff. It’s just that your staff are exactly that. They’re not your brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles or anything else. They work with and for you, they play the same game and they know how to play it together.

We have to stop talking about being a family at work.

If you want people to respect you, never talk about being a family.

Talk about being a team.

That’s where you score.

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