The Erin Edit

Topics in People Management

The F Word

February 13, 2023

Why the use of the word "family" at work is incredibly misguided.

For everyone, the term family means something different. For some, that's trauma-filled. For some, that's joy-filled. But everyone has a different lens they look through when they hear that word. When you say "family" that could evoke really painful memories for those reporting to you.

Family dynamics are vastly different from work.

Work is a transactional relationship at the end of the day. Someone provides services in exchange for financial compensation. While it's not that simplified in action, that's at the core of it. That's not at the core of a family.

In a family, you aren't at risk of losing your livelihood through termination. There isn't a formal performance review process.

So as a manager or executive in a business, the use of the word family is inappropriate and in extreme cases used to manipulate others.

Instead, use "team." We are a "team."

We rely on each other but we have no long-term obligation to this group of people. At the end of the day, we can be estranged from our family, but we can't change who they are. We can with work. We can change that at a moment's notice.

So let's keep lanes clear as managers and not blur the lines for our team by mislabeling who and what we are.

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