In a merit culture, the organization needs to be run like a team rather than like a family. On occasion I have heard a member of our team describe our organization as “one big happy family.” This sounds nice; it’s a warm and fuzzy (everyone has trophy mindset). This mindset has no place in a performance based culture in business.

For example, family models tend to be forgiving and accepting. In a family, no one is judged: everyone is accepted and benefits strictly because they belong — not because they perform. Family models are too generous and too tolerant to serve in a merit culture business. Membership in a family is the epitome of entitlement — it is assumed and not earned.

On the other hand, people on a team must prove themselves and earn their way, and they are judged and rewarded based on their contribution. Team members are held accountable for results, not best efforts.

As leaders, our job is not to make people happy, our job is to make them better. When they get better, they get happy.