November 20

Some workplaces like to parade the notion that their work culture is a family. No! The workplace is not a family. Family membership is unconditional and not contingent upon performance. A job is contingent upon delivering upon expectations and maintaining appropriate behavior, and at any point your employment can be revoked if you don’t measure up.

When we talk about our work culture as a “family” we give people a false sense of security that really shouldn’t be there. Yes, we want people to feel psychologically safe and to believe that we will protect them, care for them, and help them do their best work, but at no point should we send signals to them that their work peers are similar to their bloodline.

Why is this important? Because whether you lead a team or are on one, it’s easy to slip into this “family” mindset out of insecurity. However, when expectations aren’t met or circumstances change, the family ethic can suddenly shift leading to a massive fallout. It’s important to have a clear understanding of where you stand in relation to your manager, your peers, and the people you lead, and to not allow insecurity to cause you to make promises you can’t keep.

Don’t confuse your work team for your family. Teams are not family.

Question: Do you consider your work team a “family”? How might you adapt those perceptions to be more accurate?

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