If you find yourself about to say “we’re a family” to a new recruit joining your dev team, this entry is for you. Managers, you should stop considering or calling your team a family. Here’s three simple reasons why.
A family protects the weak. They love unconditionally. This is beautiful and amazing. But family is not business.
Now, I’m not saying that you should immediately cut your “weak” team members - but you should act like a team. A team encourages team members, they try to build them up. But, in the end, they either get benched or kicked if they can’t make it.
To have a healthy group of developers, build yourself a team, not a family.
Excuse for Poor Treatment?
I’ve heard “we’re a family, we’ll get through this” when I belonged to a team that had a particularly unforgiving timeline. I felt more so that I was trapped, like “you are stuck in your family,” than in a team where I was appreciated. I think others can say they’ve had similar experiences.
When you throw around “family,” be careful not to imply - or even follow through with - not appreciating your developers or pushing them too far because you’re stuck together.
Not All Families Are the Same
“You’ll love this - it tastes just like cheese” exclaimed a friend. They forgot that I don’t like cheese! They made an assumption that what they love I also loved. If we followed through with their statement, the thing they want me to try, they’re actually warning me I’d hate it!
Not all families are like yours. Not all families are the perfect picture of harmony and happiness. Some people have broken families or none at all. Perhaps they can’t stand their family. You could be drawing parallels to something that’s not what you mean - or even worse, painful.
Build a Strong Team
Your group of developers should be your team. Teams can grow and shrink, do well one season, fail the next. They have team members come and go, but develop a trend forward and their own identity as a group. Hard workers do well and propel the team forward. Those who can’t cut it, after encouragement and training, are dropped off. You don’t have a family. You have a team.