That’s quite the headline, no?
But it’s also one of the most interesting nuggets to be unearthed in LinkedIn Co-founder and Executive Chairman Reid Hoffman’s new book, The Alliance, according to Erza Klein’s post on Vox Technology this morning.
So just what is that untruth companies tell employees? Klein quotes Hoffman directly from the book:
“The biggest lie is that the employment relationship is like family,” Hoffman says.
Klein’s piece (which is well worth a read on its own) then goes on to quote Hoffman’s description of the two versions of the lie employers tell:
“One is where the employer is actually deluding themselves.” Employers may want to believe their workplace really is like a family, and, in that moment, they may convince themselves it actually is like a family.
The other version of the lie comes because the employer wants the employee to believe it. “They really want the employee to be loyal to the company,” Hoffman writes. “That’s when it gets deceptive.”
Indeed, the misplaced concept of family is central to the book, according to an interview the author Daniel Pink held on Amazon with the Hoffman and the co-authors of the book (Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh).
When prompted by Pink to talk about the “notion” that successful companies are “families,” the authors responded:
Some CEOs like to refer to their companies as families. The concept of family is a powerful one, and describes how the best companies treat their people: with compassion and respect.
Yet we believe that using family language is a big mistake. The problem is that families are permanent–you can’t fire your kids, no matter how many times they may forget to take out the trash.
Companies are not permanent. The instant you lay off an underperforming employee, or someone leaves to pursue a better opportunity, the illusion of family is shattered. The only way to maintain the fiction is for people to lie to themselves and each other. This underlying dishonesty is corrosive, and prevents the kind of trust that is necessary for a close, high-performance relationship.
Both sides need to be honest with each other about the fact that the employment might not be permanent.
The authors definitely have an interesting take on the fallacy of the “company=family” dynamic.
It’s one that may be even worth pondering as you spend some real “family” time during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. (Just be prepared for an encounter with a family member you may wish to “fire.”)Twitter It!