By Dr. Edward Straub
Think about the last time you got ‘a good talking to’ by one of your parents. Maybe the incident involved taking the car without permission or staying out too late (maybe something worse). But you get the idea. If your relationship was like most, you’ve been preached to several times about what was right, what was wrong, and why it mattered. You may even recall feeling persecuted but as you became more responsible and grew to an adult the nature of these conversations probably changed quite a bit. The conversations became more of a dialogue instead of one way.
The point is that your relationship changed over time. The context of each situation and the role of each member of the family unit mattered. If your family functioned in a “healthy” range, you had varying levels of cohesion and flexibility at various times to accommodate fluctuations in your environment.
Recent research has drawn interesting parallels between family dynamics and the factors that influence how satisfying individuals find their work. At the team level, cohesion and flexibility play an important role at work. The very same factors used to assess healthy family functioning. The challenge is understanding how and when to balance the right amounts of these powerful factors. Too much or too little of each can lead to groupthink, chaos, rigidity, or withdrawal.
High cohesion and low flexibility can be useful when the tasks are clear the plan is set, but less cohesion and high flexibility help teams innovate and define new processes. Successful teams are balanced and can pivot to meet the demands of a new situation.