Every once in a while, you will hear CEOs of organizations declare “At Acme Products, we are like a family!” I am not exactly sure what a CEO means when she describes her company as a family.
Perhaps there was a time when organizations were familial. Your grandparents may reminisce about the “good old days” when employees were treated like family. In the not-too-distant past, family-like environments naturally flourished since tenures were longer and relationships were deeper. Doing your job well nearly guaranteed of lifetime employment. However, organizations today are not like a family, regardless of what your well-intentioned CEO tells you.
In most organizations, the organization always comes first. While business is on the upswing, your relationship with your employer will flourish. As financials tighten or competition heats up, reorganizations, restructurings, and reductions rule the day. Good performers are suddenly reminded that they are liabilities, and liabilities must be reduced in order to stabilize financials.
Family or human capital?
“Family members” are suddenly asked to pack-up their belongings and exit the building. In organizations, blood is not thicker than water – red ink is. Allyn Gardner, the long-time career coach at Harvard Business School’s career program for MBA students, has observed this phenomenon firsthand. “They call people human capital for a reason,” Allyn mused. “Capital is an asset that you review periodically to determine how well it is performing to meet your objectives. Businesses tend to focus more on the capital-side and less on the human-side.”
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