You often hear high performing organizations describe themselves as “a family.” Some football teams describe themselves that way, or you may have heard about the Apple “family” that brought you the iPhone; or the NASA “family of astronauts” that has led space exploration.
Why do members of these organizations use such strong language to describe their connection to each other? What benefits and drawbacks result from these connections?
Few would argue that the New England Patriots are the most successful football franchise of all time. We have written in the past about Bill Belichick, and his capabilities as the de-facto team COO. An additional factor leading to the Patriots’ success, is the care and concern that team members show to one another. Phillip Dorsett, Patriots’ wide receiver, said on YouTube that the team is “like a family.” The storied organization will soon be participating in its 11th Super Bowl, by far the most of any NFL team.
As the CEO or COO of a small to medium-sized business, do you often wish that your firm could operate more like a family? Do you wish that qualities like trust, loyalty, and mutual support were more prevalent in your business every day?
Create a More Family-Like Environment
In his book, Everybody Matters, Bob Chapman said that there are ways to create a business family at work. He refers to the suggestions of his friend Roy Spence, author and CEO of The Purpose Institute. Spence’s advice: to:
- Treat each employee the way you would like your kids to be treated where they work.
- Build a home, not just a business—one that you would want to come home to every day.
- Be a coach.
- Encourage and insist that each team member plays to his strengths.
Some of the ways you can nurture a business family at work are by adjusting your own expectations of people. Spence advises:
- Be patient with those who don’t “get it.”
- Let them grow and then let them go. Let people expand beyond your team if that is what is best for them.
Sometimes a work environment is perceived as a cold, unfriendly place where people feel isolated from their co-workers. In large corporate headquarters, people from the 20th floor rarely have anything to do with people on the 19th floor. But as long as you are not running a huge corporation, you can take a more friendly and personal approach to connect with your employees.
- Be authentically human: Break bread together, celebrate together, talk it over together, and mourn together. Be proudly “unprofessional.”
Entrepreneur.com guest writer Nadia Goodman wrote an article about how to foster a connection at work and mentioned the word that many do not often associate with offices: “love.” Not the kind of love that sells candy and flowers on Valentine’s Day, noted Goodman, but a more ordinary variety.
"Love is any positive emotion that we share with another person in real time," researcher Barbara Fredrickson says. "It could be shared serenity, pride, or compassion, but the minute that it becomes shared, it is converted to an experience of love." Frederickson has published a book on this topic.
Goodman said, “As a leader, you can best foster this sense of connection at your company through your own example. "If you express a more open state that is authentic and sincere, that vibe will reverberate," Fredrickson says.
Among Goodman’s tips to foster a sense of belonging at work:
Notice your daily connections. Ask yourself: Who did I really connect with today?
- Spend more time face to face. Then you will be able to gauge the reaction of another to your requests, suggestions, comments, and in turn be able to provide feedback.
Numerous studies have noted that the ubiquity of technological devices in our lives, and our work, can isolate us from one another.
As a leader, you need to exert extra effort to guarantee that the employees in your firm are using the technology for efficiency’s sake and not to separate themselves from another.
That is why the tried-and-true activities like the weekend softball game or company picnic still have such relevance today. These events can help your employees get beyond the roles they play at work and get to know each other as human beings, as team members.
Conclusion: The Value of Recognition
Employee recognition is one of the most critical aspects of an outstanding workplace. A recent Gallup poll found that recognition is not offered to workers as often as it could be.
Cutting Edge PR reported: “A Gallup analysis in 2018 found that only one in three US workers strongly agreed they have received recognition or praise for doing good work in the previous seven days. Gallup consultants recommend that recognition should be given weekly in broad terms to those who deserve it – and in a timely way so the employee knows the significance of their recent achievement and to reinforce company values.”
If you and your employees demonstrate these supportive and nurturing behaviors in your workplace, you will not only make your staff feel appreciated, but they will become a more motivated and productive team.
In other words, make your employees feel like family, a family which you can depend on to do the job well. Then, enjoy the journey along the way.