Three Reasons Why You Should Stop Calling Your Team a “Family”
Somewhere along the way, it became common practice to refer to your company as a family. While this may seem like a harmless device to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy, all this family talk is actually detrimental to your company culture as you scale. The truth is, companies are nothing like families. The term family implies a “stuck-togetherness” where you make it work no matter what, but the reality in business is that everyone has a choice whether or not to work together, and we usually only do so as long as the job and company serve our needs and our priorities are being met.
If you’re looking to scale your culture and create a sense of purpose, we suggest that you start thinking of your company as a team instead of a family-- and not just any kind of team, a professional sports team. Here are our top three reasons why:
Teams prioritize performance and select the best person for the job
If you’re constantly referring to your team as a family it makes it really difficult to have necessary critical conversations about performance, much less let someone go, but with sports teams, everyone has a similar expectation that the job is based on performance and your ability to support the team’s goals. No one questions a General Manager of a sports team for making trades or drafting ripe young talent, and as leaders we have that similar responsibility to our companies and our customers-- to perform and provide the best product or service possible.
We acknowledge that this may sound a bit harsh, so we encourage you to either imagine or think back to a time where you kept an employee in a role who you knew probably wasn’t the best fit. Who benefitted by them staying in the role they weren’t qualified for? We will wager that the customer didn’t because they could’ve received a higher quality product or service, the other members of the team didn’t because they had to pick up the slack, which means the company didn’t benefit either. Lastly, the employee didn’t benefit because they were underperforming which likely caused them stress, plus they could have spent that time utilizing their skills and talents elsewhere within the company or at another company that’s a better fit for them.
Teams are driven by purpose and shared goals
If you look at your family, what percentage of you are working toward the same exact end-goal? How aligned are your passions, purposes, and values? If your family is anything like ours, you love each other but you’re all very different. Referring to your company as a family implies that you love and support each other, but it definitely doesn’t imply that you’re all driven by the same purpose and share the same goals. Teams on the other hand, work synchronously to achieve a shared outcome. Teams are a group of people who have bought into the same vision and are choosing to contribute their knowledge, skills, and talents to make that vision a reality.
Teams reinforce norms
Teammates keep each other accountable which reinforces the set norms and values, also known as Culture! When you observe teammates on a championship winning sports team, you see them cheer each other on and give each other tough love. They spend hours in between games reviewing film together, figuring out how they can improve, and strategizing. Remember, company culture isn’t a “set it and forget it” initiative; company cultures are ever evolving and self-reinforcing based on behaviors that are rewarded or punished. In order to cultivate your desired company culture, you can’t brush things under the rug or avoid important conversations like most families do, you have to approach performance and improvement with an honest and critical team-centric mindset.
Is your company operating more like a family instead of a championship winning professional sports team? If so and you’re unsure of how to shift your company culture, reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org