Do we ever sit watching our family and friends, the people that can mean so much to us? Maybe they are even the very reason we get up each day before heading out into the world to earn enough for the rent or the pleasures of life? What if they worked with their loved ones; the ones they care so much for; the ones for which they would sacrifice anything. Although of course there are surely many who might say, “they’d drive me nuts if we worked together but I still love them to bits!“ my question is; what might it be like in those small family businesses in comparison to modern corporate cultures?
Just for a moment let’s imagine our team or organisation is solely made up from family and friends. What would it really be like if we worked with people who had our best interests at heart and whose best interests we held close? Would we:
- begin each day reciting the same morning briefing in a monotone fashion because someone in the office insisted on the process?
- cut corners on buying the equipment our Mother was about to use and blame her when it went wrong?
- file a near miss report on our Son whilst leaving him in harm’s way?
- send our best mates on a training course without discussion; then ask them for feedback before disregarding it all because each had a certificate for insurance purposes?
- insist our daughter signs for a document she’s never understood, expect her to work at the same pace as an experienced hand, pay her less than a living wage and drop innuendo into the conversation?
In so many ways I like to think that we know how to give our best to our friends and family. We also did not really need teaching these values in an educational sense, instead learning by observing how people treated each other, we did what felt naturally good to us or we accepted some timely feedback from someone who had our best interests at heart. Whilst if there were a threat from outside this circle of members people would unite to protect one another, to care for each other to support and respect differences.
What makes this caring so hard in many organisations, which like to talk about health and safety as if it is a ‘priority’, or maybe better as a ‘value’, but what does that mean? Does it mean they really care for their people or are busy ticking boxes to be compliant or because they think they have to as it ‘seems like the right thing to do’.
If we argue that we care for our families and friends because of genetic fate, crossed paths and shared experiences why must that circle be limited? If we challenge ourselves as individuals in a society, and a Company is a society, could we allow others inside our mental boundary? Could we even question the boundary entirely, seeing people for what they are, unique individuals? And ultimately what would a workplace be like if the care, the love extended to everyone?
By Matthew Strong