As we know there are far too many families that we would not want to emulate.
And yet when we talk about wanting a family atmosphere – we’re going for warmth and connection, not dysfunction and codependency. No moms. No dads. More like your cool cousins.
Some companies avoid that “family” feeling for fear that they won’t be objective enough when making hard decisions about non-performing employees. There is a sense that difficult conversations will be that much more difficult if you have a close relationship because now it feels personal for both sides.
And really what do we want at the end of the day but warm, close relationships with people with whom we feel a real deal connection. People we trust. People we count on.
So imagine if all day at work the relationships are cold and distant. Sanitized. “Safe” from feelings and emotions and closeness. Most of your waking life spent in a sterilized environment. And maybe it’s not that bleak, maybe there’s just a bit of chill in the air. But you can still feel it and you still wish you had a sweater (knitted by your cousin).
I spoke to a company the other day whose main growth pain is decline in the feeling like a family. As they implement policies and systems they feel like they’ve lost some of that “lovin’ feeling” and gone more “cold corporate.” But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In fact in Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness, he talks about how with hundreds of employees at Zappos they were still able to keep a sense of family. In fact one of their living values “Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit” states “We are more than just a team, though – we are family. We watch out for each other, care for each other, and go above and beyond for each other because we believe in each other and we trust each other.”
So go for it, get connected to your coworkers and to your employees. Care about them. And yes it will be messy at times, but at least it will be real. And at the end of the day you will create what really matters.