Companies are not families

Leadership / Opinion

Good New York Times interview with the new Peloton CEO Barry McCarthy. Near the end he dropped a nice nugget:

And I say you’ll never hear me say we’re a family. We’re a sports team, and we’re trying to win the Super Bowl. And so we’re going to put the best players on the field we can. And if you go down the field, and we throw you the ball, and you drop it a bunch, we’re going to cut you.

We spend the majority of our waking hours at work and with the people at work. But I always die a little inside when I hear teams talk about being a family. While it might be an alluring thought, it is neither realistic nor appealing. Family is about being bound together and in the best of cases about shared values and unconditional love.

Work ultimately is always at the base level a transactional relationship. You work and get compensated for it. At work, you are replaceable. Everyone is. To your family, you are not. A workplace is replaceable. A family is not.

In that regard, I’d rather aspire to establishing a community at work. One that promotes values like caring, love, a sense of belonging, respect, empathy, joy, and fairness. These might all be attributes shared with families, but there should be a clear line separating work and family.

High functioning teams add layers on top of it like shared values, growing together and standing up for one another. But ultimately, it’s a loose band that last for a few years until it doesn’t. And that’s OK.

The Author

Raging introvert, estimated to be 120% German. Passionate about photography. If Sheldon knocked on my door three times, I'd let him in.