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Why you should take a 'family approach' to work

Kevin Vermeer is the president and CEO of UnityPoint Health.

Family traditions go hand-in-hand with this time of year. Whether they're comical or sentimental, some automatically come to mind when you think about the holiday season. What about the family dynamic within your organization? That phrase might seem like an oxymoron.

Not long ago, I stumbled upon a Forbes article written in 2012, which challenges leaders to assess whether or not their organizations take a "family approach" to work. Author Glenn Llopis points out family-owned businesses generally embrace this mentality well, saying specifically, "Not all of them are perfect, but that is not the point. Taking a family approach means establishing a foundation of trust and a cultural promise to unite as one; to perform with purpose and the healthier whole in mind."

Organizations of any size should strive for this. And it's during this season — one of reflection and anticipation — where we can evaluate areas of opportunity for us as leaders to be the force of change. Llopis does a great job outlining five ways leaders can begin this transition in their own organization, and here are two of my favorite points:

Build a Supportive Culture
If you were asked to describe your personal family values, you'd probably respond without much hesitation. But what if someone were to ask you the same question about your organization? An answer might not come as readily. If you build a culture of "family values" within your organization, employees will not only learn, know and resonate with those tenets, but they'll live by them, hold each other accountable and have each other’s backs as well.

Employees Should Feel Empowered to Speak Up
Think of conversation around your dinner table. If someone in the family doesn't chime in, usually it changes the entire mood of the meal. Encouraging employees to have a voice and share their opinion should be the standard. Creating an environment of diverse ideas and feedback will only lead to more trust among the group, as well as better decision-making.

I encourage you to spend time with your families and loved ones over the holiday season, just as I plan to do. But, also express gratitude to a co-worker, acknowledge positive efforts and support your team. After all, your work family matters, too.


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