Last year, my 9-year-old daughter, who is a pretty tough cookie, was reduced to tears by a clique that turned against her.
In less than 24 hours, this group of kids, whom she considered friends, had her wanting to quit her hockey team and never play again.
They did this by using only words and silence (a.k.a - the cold shoulder).
I’d never seen anything like it. Or so I thought - more on that later. Yes, yes… apparently being a man does not help me here.
There’s more to the story that I can get into now, but we managed to get to the bottom of it and got some “I’m sorry’s” flowing. We got her to the rink just before the puck drop for a “big” playoff game but it was too late.
Too late, because even the kids who weren’t involved knew something was just not right that day.
The team played horribly and lost badly. It was their worst game of the season. It cost them the chance to move on.
This prompted a lot of discussion among the parents. Some of us (maybe it was just me) realized we were oblivious to the cliques on the team and how they were inhibiting its success.
To be fair, I think some people were aware, but I don’t think any of us (parents or team leaders) were doing anything to mitigate these naturally forming sub groups on the team. And that wasn’t good.
Here’s the thing about sub-groups. They happen everywhere people get together. They’re part of kids’ hockey teams and they’re part of where you work.
Cliques are not relegated to kids’ sports teams or the playgrounds of our youth. They can materialize anyplace you have groups of people who see each other frequently.
If you’re a workplace leader (manager, boss, etc), it’s your job to set things up so that everyone on the team can do the best work they can.
I’m not saying it’s easy but you’ve got to do it, or else…
Here’s an interesting statistic: According to a study done by PwC, CEO turnover at the 2500 largest companies in the world rose from 14.3 in 2014 to 16.6% in 2015 – a record high.
And it’s happened to all of us at some point. You’re just going about your business doing your job like you do every day and in comes a new boss.
You might not know this person or it might be someone who you knew was shortlisted but workplace conversation turns quickly to “hey, what do you know about the new boss?”
Very rarely does a new boss come in and continue the status quo. New bosses have new ideas and often want to make their mark.
For some this is a breath of fresh air; for others it causes fear and anxiety.
So how will you react? How will you deal with the change coming down the pipe?
A lot depends on what type of person you are, or more to the point, what type of person you choose to be.
Imagine going to a music concert and, during the performance, each instrument section (or individual player) tried to outshine the others.
It would be awful to watch and probably even worse to listen to. That’s because you expect this group of people to be working together to reach their outcome - not trying to outshine each other.
Yet this is what happens in many work places.
There is competition between departments and between people inside departments. Often, the dark side of competition also creeps in - withholding information, internal politics, and sabotaging other people’s efforts.
How can organizations make use of the spirit of competition but try to keep out the destructive parts? If only there was a way.
Ah, but there is.
Recently I did a survey that asked people what one of their most common issues was when it comes to workplace collaboration. You’re probably not surprised to learn that one of the most common issues was that many people feel like they’re working in a silo. They feel disconnected from other departments or from the company’s overall direction. There is a lot of flow going up and down but none through and across.
It’s not surprising that working in silos is such a common problem. Often silos are built out of necessity, to group things together as organizations get larger, and it’s easy for the flow between departments to disintegrate.
I'd like to tell you about an experience I had during the early stages of my career as an orchestral musician and how I first learned about breaking through silos.