Is an organization a family?

Is an organization a family?

Have you heard promoters, founders and leaders claim that “we are family” when referring to their relationship with their employees and team members?

I have often wondered what “family” means in an organization context. I have also wondered if organizations can at all be “family”?

At one level, the notion of family can make the leader the head of the family and therefore place a certain responsibility of having to “take care of their people”.

At another level, “family” feeling is more about the sense of community, warmth that one experiences and the feeling that one will be supported in difficult times. That seems realistic.

At a third level, “family” may also mean that people have grown so familiar with one another and relationships have become so personal that it is hard to be honest with one another, hold each other accountable or share feedback and so on. That can be troublesome.

Finally, it is useful to ask what kind of family one is referring to , given that the underlying meaning of families itself have changed so much.