Friday, October 22, 2010

KeFactors Fridays: Why Your Workplace is Not Your Family

You can see how this happens: when human beings experience close bonds and camaraderie at work, they often liken it to the bonds of family.

But is this correct—or even healthy for the organization?

Consider what’s wrong with that statement.

For starters, there are downsides to being in a family as well, because families also experience:

• unhealthy competitions and rivalries
• adversarial relationships with power and authority
• permissiveness and favoritism
• tolerance of abusive behaviors like incivility and sabotage

And for everyone who feels important and central to the family group, there’s
always someone who feels displaced or excluded.

This is because employees often use the family analogy as a way to express their experience of workplace culture and values, without realizing a great deal of that perception is based in personal assumptions about how a family should function. And frankly, the two templates—family and work—while separate and equal, are very different in purpose and operation.

It’s also meant that many managers confuse the activities of managing with parenting—which only makes employees feel patronized.

The bottom line? Family-like interactions at work are fine unless and until they give permission for behaviors that don’t work for work. (Stay tuned: an e-book is being developed on this topic in greater detail).

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