In my role at FarVision Consulting, this is something I often hear from the small businesses we work with. We know immediately that this is code for “we really care about each other,” but being a family is not always perfect.
In many families, there is a strong level of commitment and caring for each other, but there are also complex layers of conditions, expectations, history, and competing needs. Personality often plays a role in what people say, do, and how they perceive the words and actions of others. Family and group dynamics may offer conscious and unconscious contributions to family life as well. These factors, as well as limited time and other resources, may impact what and how things get done. In some cases, not every family member has the assumed level of commitment and caring for others. Indeed my experience with family is that you take some bad with the good.
If a business truly is like a family, does it include these complicated layers?
Commitment and caring are two significant values that are often part of a family, and in a business setting, can create an environment conducive to productivity. However, blindly assuming that these values are shared with every member of the team is not always helpful, and not acknowledging the other layers of “family” may even be harmful.
Example: Company X is owned by three sibling partners, John, Mary, and Sue. During childhood, Sue often felt as the youngest that she was left out of family discussions and decisions, and often blamed John and Mary for not including her. John and Mary felt that Sue was annoying and exhausting to be around. Although they thought they had grown out of these issues by adulthood and did not anticipate any problems being equal business partners, at the first sign of financial struggle for the company, old family dynamics again came to the surface. Sue immediately felt that John and Mary were purposely leaving her out of meetings where important decisions were made. John and Mary felt that it was just easier to work without Sue. At a time when all company owners should be working together, old wounds prevented the siblings from focusing on the needs of the business as each went through her or his own difficult emotions related to the past family dynamics.
Sometimes it is hard to see these layers when you are living and working within them. In families, outside counselors are often brought in to help identify and correct unhealthy patterns. Similarly, organizations may choose to bring in outside consultants to help identify and correct unhealthy dynamics. Sometimes individuals may also elect to pursue individual counseling to address these personal family dynamic issues outside the business.
Being able to help organizations quickly find and understand those unhealthy dynamics, which we might consider pain points, is essential. At FarVision, we help organizations that either is family or feel like family to identify the positive opportunities as well as challenges of working together. Through working with Purpose, Vision, and Mission, we help individuals understand if they are aligned with the company—or not. Through our work with teams, we support businesses to create roadmaps to build on the strengths of commitment and caring. We help people understand and leverage the negative “family” dynamics so that everyone, regardless of personality and role, is helping get the company to the next level.
FarVision has decades of experience helping businesses of all demographics achieve success. For more information, visit our website at www.farvisionconsulting.com.