By Cameron Coutts, organisational psychologist and podcast host.
COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE BY WENDY LAMBOURNE, LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP: When we hear the words “we are like a family”, as Legitimate Leadership we typically find an organisation where there is too much care and not enough growth. An organisation where relationships are overly affiliative, standards are low, and management is seen to be weak – and hence is taken advantage of. Cameron Coutts describes the differences between a team at work and family very clearly. He also gives cogent advice on how to develop a high-performing team rather than living with a dysfunctional family.
THE ARTICLE: If you believe that your company “is like a family” … then you probably have a toxic culture. When you treat your co-workers like family, you can:
I know you have good intentions when you say “we’re a family”. You want your people to have tight bonds. To have each other’s backs.
But this perspective often breeds the problems many families face that aren’t appropriate, healthy or productive in the workplace.
Thing is, there are very few families out there that don’t have some degree of dysfunction. We’re often told to just accept this dysfunction “because we’re a family”.
This is just not appropriate thinking for the workplace.
Look, even if you have a really healthy family dynamic, a family is different to a team because:
But in a team:
Remember: a family is expected to co-exist and survive. A team is expected to collaborate and perform.
If you want to have a high-functioning team instead of a dysfunctional family, then start doing the following: