We Are Like a Family Here
“We are like a family here at company XYZ,” yet another employer tells me.
Each time I hear that, I think, Oh really? I’m so sorry, that must be terrible.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but I have no intention of working with them day in and day out. So not loving it when you tell me you have created another “family” for me to work with.
I realize that’s not exactly what most employers are saying, but what are they saying? Really?
I don’t know about you, but my family is complicated. So, when you say we are like a family here, that means we have a sense of obligation. There is sometimes a bit of passive-aggressive behavior because it tends to be a little more difficult to cut to the chase with said “family.” There are often situations where people are in positions they really shouldn’t be in because they are like “family,” but don’t have the appropriate skills or abilities to take the company to the next level.
Can you have an environment that feels like family but doesn’t start to act like one? Yes, but be ready to work at it.
With every employee you add, it will take more work to keep that positive “family feeling” at work. Just like in a real family, the larger it gets, the more complex. In the beginning things are simple. There are just two of you. Then the first child, the second and by the time the third child comes you start to see the household dynamic change considerably. Then they get older, married, have children and the family now has an official “kids” table at Thanksgiving. The early simplicity and ease of a small family now evolves to a lot of complexity.
How does this translate to work? Company decisions, promotions, new positions and money are all subject to the impact of a “family-like” atmosphere if not managed early on.
“Joe has been here from the beginning. He’s like my brother. I need to give him the promotion.” I often hear comments like this when I’m explaining how to build a consistent and fair compensation structure.
Being like a family at work only works if you are willing to do the following:
- Be fair and consistent in all employment issues included jobs and pay
- Hold all employees accountable
- Take action when employees are not keeping up their end of the bargain
“I tell my employees one thing when I hire them” an employer told me last week. “I direct them to ‘just do the right thing.’ It’s worked to this point.”
That works as sound advice for employees and employers alike, oh, and since we’re on the topic, let’s throw in our families.