When a team is not a family
February 11, 2017 10:42 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to find an online article which discussed why it is not useful to refer to a nonprofit workplace or team as a family. e.g. "We're just one big happy family here at Charity X".

I think I found this article via metafilter probably 5 years ago. I cannot find it now. I recall it was written by a woman from the U.S. It may have been a blog post or an opinion piece from a professional newsletter/publication. It was not very long- maybe 500 words- and it provided a strong rationale for using 'team' rather than 'family' when referring to the workers in a charity or nonprofit organisation.
I'm also interested in any other writing on this issue.
posted by MT to Work & Money (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'd be willing to bet this was Alison Green at Ask a Manager. (She also writes for Inc and a few other online publications.)

I can't find anything on her site focused solely on this, but here's something:

"Your workplace, as well as people in it might get along, is not a family. Family do not (generally) fire other family members or lay them off. Thinking of workplaces as families leads to a lot of bad decision-making (by both employees and managers)."

Similar here.
posted by meemzi at 12:00 AM on February 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

I agree, this was definitely discussed on Ask A Manager. Sorry, I'm on mobile right now.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 12:01 AM on February 12, 2017

Best answer: This isn't non-profit specific but you might be thinking of the "We're a team not a family" slide in the Netflix Slide Deck Patty McCord made while she was there. It's slide number 23 out of 124. It reads: "We're a team, not a family/We're like a pro sports team, not a kid's recreational team/Netflix leaders hire, develop and cut smartly, so we have stars in every position"

The concept is expanded on here: Your Company is Not a Family via Harvard Business Review on June 17, 2014 by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, and Chris Yeh.

"In contrast to a family, a professional sports team has a specific mission (to win games and championships), and its members come together to accomplish that mission. The composition of the team changes over time, either because a team member chooses to go to another team, or because the team’s management decides to cut or trade a team member. In this sense, a business is far more like a sports team than a family."
posted by Verba Volant at 10:05 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: None of these suggestions were the article I was trying to find. The Harvard Business Review came pretty close. Thanks all.
posted by MT at 12:50 AM on February 27, 2017

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