Years ago, I was at a dinner with one of the CIO’s of the CIA. Believe it or not, they had three. The CIA had been a longtime Lawson HR/PR client of ours. During the dinner, he expressed intriguing interest in our company, in-particular our culture. He was fascinated regarding our ability to run a substantial operation while maintaining a small company “feel good” culture. After a glass of wine, he said, “I have heard you refer to your company as a family on several occasions. How would you differentiate between a team and a family? Because, you can fire your team members, but you can’t fire your family.”
This was a first. No one had ever asked me to define what a work family represented to me, much less the CIO of the CIA. The answer came to me as naturally as getting up in the morning. I looked back at his intense gaze and said, “When you make a professional commitment to GlobalStar, you are part of the team. But when you bring a personal commitment to the greater cause, then you become family.” He smiled and said, “Nice!”
Of course, creating a work environment that is conducive to having a family type commitment at work is atypical and the exception. It includes caring enough about your fellow team members to do whatever it takes to help them succeed. It’s about adopting a steeled desire to do what’s in the best interest of everyone involved, the greater good. Knowing that if they are successful, then so are you, and vice versa. Creating a family culture is a greater ideal, but absolutely worth the effort.
Like most things, it starts at the top. The leaders within an organization will need to set the pace for ensuring everyone invests their heart and soul into the greater cause. It is the definition of true synergy. That we are greater together than the sum of our parts. It’s knowing that if you are in that foxhole hole with a team member, that you can depend on them to have your back. The leaders need to consistently align their words and actions, to assure the entire organization that they honestly care about each member of the team. This is an integral aspect of having a familial environment, where continuous support between team members, management, and the overall cause, is a must.