One Big Family… Or A Team?

This week is Thanksgiving, a time when many of us gather together as a family. Sometimes those gatherings can get interesting, because our family is… well, interesting. We often have people we really appreciate, and some we merely tolerate. Either way, they hold a special place in our heart because they’re family. And families stick together no matter what.

Some businesses, especially small to mid-sized ones, think of themselves as a “family.” I propose that this is a wrong way of thinking.

You see, families are all about people committed to one another. They don’t (usually) choose each other, but do choose (hopefully) to stand by each other through thick and thin, because preserving the relationship is what matters most.  A healthy business, however, understands that its people are part of a team, not a family.

Teams are assembled for a common purpose. Its members are chosen based on their character and what each of them can contribute to the team’s effort. In other words, they fit the mission of the team. While they may occasionally make mistakes or act inappropriately, overall they continue to earn their place on the team by the value they bring. Otherwise their positions are in jeopardy.

Because for a team, preserving the Purpose matters more than preserving the relationships. I know this doesn’t sit well with many people, even among those in leadership positions. And that’s a problem, because it means at times they are willing to sacrifice the integrity of the team for the sake of the feelings of a few individuals. This is a losing proposition in the long run. As we must remember, unlike a family, team members choose their team as well. The best and brightest on a team will not continue to choose a team that allows others to barely scrape by, not bringing value and detracting from the mission of the team. So in an effort to protect the worst, leaders can lose the best.

As a business leader or owner, you have a responsibility to build the strongest team you can. Choosing the best People, both to add and to keep, is the most important element of building A Business That Matters, so choose wisely.