Family or team?

I’m on temporary assignment at another hotel in our group that’s between general managers. This historic property joined us just a year ago, and one thing that immediately distinguished it was how quickly the associates bought into our culture and ways of doing business. They operate like they’ve been part of the “family” for a long time, and I can now personally attest to that.

But I recently read a blog post titled “Your Company Is Not a Family” and now wonder if using the term “family” in this context is inaccurate and that, perhaps, we’re more like a “team.”

As the blog post points out, successful teams assemble talented individuals into high-performance groups with the intent to win games and championships. Team members may come and go over time, but the identity and commitment of the team remains consistent. There is no assurance of guaranteed employment, yet trust is bred in an atmosphere of team success over individual glory. And even when team members move on, their alumni status is appreciated. One thing that does seem constant is  continuity of senior leadership — the team’s owner, general manager or coach.

Conversely, families are expected to maintain a “lifetime relationship with a sense of belonging.” While this “sense of belonging” certainly describes what I’ve experienced in some of the hotels in which I’ve worked over the years, there were times when change was needed and I’ve had to dismiss people for non-performance. Would I dismiss a family member? I don’t think so. Would I want a family member to leave and join another family that offered them more opportunity? No!

What’s your take on this?  Do healthy hotels operate like a family, a team or a bit of both?