At Flight Centre Travel Group, we have built our business upon the foundations of Family, Village, Tribe. This structure is based on the theory that human beings have and will always have an innate need for connection and that people are more motivated when organised into teams that replicate hunter-gatherer groups.
Thus, in the late 90s, the Family, Village, Tribe structure was born - to foster a continuing sense of personal and social identity that is usually non-existent in large organisations. This simple, flat and transparent structure acts as a mechanism for effective communication and ensures everyone feels a sense of belonging and purpose.
Let's break it down...
Family is the first building block. At Flight Centre, your family is your individual team. Consisting of a minimum of three and a maximum of seven people, a family is an intimate group of people who know each other well and can provide encouragement, feedback and support. Whether they work remotely or together in person, a family unit can celebrate individual and collective wins and are able to rally around one another in a crisis.
The village is the second layer of our structure and is comprised of three to five like-minded families. The families in each village socialise together and often participate in training sessions, celebration nights and bonding activities. If needed, the families in a village can support one another by sharing people and resources.
A tribe includes a maximum of around 25 teams with a single tribal identity. An individual's tribe provides a sense of belonging that is bigger than themselves. A tribe is a way to connect with a greater community.
While all three layers are necessary, the family structure is vital to get right in order for the whole system to be effective. So, how do we ensure that our people feel bonded to their team?
We asked leaders across various parts of our business what do they think the key is to fostering a safe and inclusive team environment and how do they ensure each individual feels emotionally connected to their 'family'.
Megan Lowe – General Manager Leisure Product:
"An effective team is a highly engaged team. They have fun, are open and honest with each other and feel like they have a lot to offer in delivering on business outcomes. To engage your team, you acknowledge the strengths they all bring to the table and encourage open and honest conversations. They are part of setting the teams goals and the ideas behind the objectives to achieve these goals. They then all own a part of this plan and the execution of it, which they hold each other accountable for."
Meighan Nash - Regional Sales Leader Flight Centre:
"As a leader, I try to ensure that teams are as effective as possible by accepting that each person brings to the table a skillset, a history, a goal and a passion; and to accept each person as individuals. Understanding how "the job" fits into their lifestyle allows me to look for ways to be flexible whilst getting the work done. It makes people happier and more content at work, which in turn leads to greater outcomes and results.
Brent Novak – Head of Sales, Operations & Network, Flight Centre Australia:
"A great team should have a common purpose which connects them to one another, the business they work within and their own personal beliefs. A great team is underpinned by clear and consistent behaviours that are challenged, followed and exceeded - with feedback given and received to constantly look to improve one another and more towards achieving your common purpose."
Cameron Boyd - General Manager, Flight Centre Travel Academy:
“Essential to an effective team are clear expectations of everyone's specific roles and responsibilities and a clear purpose for business. To ensure my team is as effective as possible, I report and share key measures of success, celebrate wins and lead by example.”
Maria McCosker - Technology Leader, Premium Brands:
“What makes a great team? As a leader, I am constantly critiquing if I have this right. An effective/great team does not happen by itself or by one leader. I believe it is a combination of each member whilst being directed towards a common goal by their leader. However, a leader needs to lead with compassion, integrity and focus to drive the team towards this common goal. A team heading in the same direction with mutual respect is the beginning of success.”
Kerry-Anne Walker - Global Events:
"An effective team starts with a leader that is able to delegate and empower. It is their responsibility to set direction and inspire, but be consistent and confident in their decisions and ensure that everyone in the team has a voice and feels valued. The one thing that all effective leaders do is make themselves redundant so they can move on to even greater challenges and help more people. All my personal success as a leader has been a result of living this principle."
Cassandra Thurston – Internal Communications Team Leader:
"To bring it back to basics, there is no team without trust. To me, an effective team is one that has a strong culture of trust with one another. Team members feel empowered to take risks without fear of failure, and if they do fail, they trust their team will be there to support them."
Kylie Conboy – Operations Leader, Business School:
"I think, first and foremost, what makes an effective team is communication. Sharing thoughts, opinions, and ideas amongst team members is critical to this. We are lucky at FCTG that we have built into our business many different vehicles of inspiration to do this... via 1-1's, WBM's, planning days, AM planners, TL meetings, and the list goes on. We just need to be disciplined enough to use them."
Shannon Fogarty – General Manager Product, Travel Associates:
"My teams are always united by a clearly defined purpose and end goal. Each member's diverse skills are used in a collaborative fashion; however, everyone is held accountable for the part they play. By empowering each person, you can really drive the team towards its goal."
Gareth Jarret – Regional Sales Leader, Flight Centre:
"I think we already have great people in our business, but for them to be really fly they need to be aligned to a common goal. They should be encouraged to collaborate and engage everyone within the team. We want to be surfacing our experts within our teams to best tackle problems effectively or to upskill and educate each other. When they truly work together and have each other's back, there is nothing they can't achieve. As a leader, I try to empower my people to collaborate and have autonomy in their business. Also, remove any speedbumps that might be in the road ahead so the team can do what they do best."