Parent-child relationships – similar to those between managers and their employees!
“Being a good role model”, “Setting a good example”, “Growing together as a family”, “Linking core family values with business values”, “Introducing family dynamics into the workplace”. Business speak is very similar to that which we use in the family environment. Across any team there is a network of relationships, which is not dissimilar to that which exists between siblings.
Let's focus our attention on the business 'family' hierarchy, headed up by the boss. Around him or her you have the employees which can be likened to siblings; brothers, sisters, even cousins.
If we go one step further with this analogy, the chief executive can be likened to a grandparent figure, and the head of finance/logistics to that of an aunt or uncle.
Within this context it then becomes interesting to observe the interaction that takes place between these different players. This is particularly true when looking at the relationship between a manager and his/her team. Here are some examples:
Employees tend to compete with each other. They try to get on the right side of their boss, like children trying to gain the attention of their parents. The game plan is always the same: to be the best, to make a good impression and to show one's abilities. The ultimate aim is to gain approval, recognition, and ultimately, rewards.
The manager plays the role of referee within the team. They are very much like parents trying to settle arguments between their children. The race for recognition always takes place in a competitive environment where everyone compares themselves to others, and tries to do better. It is all about standing out from the crowd, gaining the upper hand and being the boss' 'favorite' employee. As a result what often follows are displays of aggressive behavior, just as one might find in the school playground; harassment, strategic alliances, lies, betrayal and manipulation.
Finally there are managers who find it difficult to give up control and allow their employees to find their own ways of doing things. This might be despite the fact that they actively encourage and praise initiative. This scenario can be likened to parents who want their children to be responsible, yet fail to grant them the independence to do so. They are constrained by the belief that their 'little ones' are not knowledgeable enough to do things by themselves. Either that, or they don't have sufficient know-how to do things properly. As a result they continue to protect them and show them the way.
We can learn a lot by looking at professional relationships in the same light. We can begin to gain an understanding of what causes interpersonal conflicts in a business environment. We can also explore new avenues for enhancing individual and team performance