The Drawbacks to “My Team is Just Like Family”

Posted by Kristin Arnold on February 18, 2015

When I work with teams, I often hear the simile that their team is just like family.

While aspiring to be a tight-knit family might be nice in theory, it has some drawbacks:

  1. Families always have drama.  I haven’t met a family that doesn’t have some drama going on – and it gets exponentially worse as the family talks about it behind each others’ backs!
  2. Feedback is harder.  Let’s face it.  It’s hard to come down on your brother-in-law for non-performance.  Families tend to look the other way until it gets so bad, you need an intervention!
  3. You can’t fire family.  Your mother will always be your mother – regardless of what you say or do.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings constantly reminds his staff that they are a “team, not a family.”  If you promote a family philosophy, you foster an entitlement mentality.

Why not characterize your “family” as a “tight-knit team” where your team defines the ground rules, reinforces performance and you avoid these drawbacks?




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