Is there anything worse than a workplace clique that makes others feel unwelcome and excluded? According to the statistics, around 43% of Australian workers said there were cliques in their workplace. So, it's a very common issue, but what can be done about it? Here we look at the reasons behind these cliques and how you can stop them from forming.
What Are Cliques In The Workplace & Why Do They Form?
A work clique is typically made up of staff who spend lots of time together and, as such, have a strong bond. They may even socialise away from work, with these close groups being formed - often excluding other employees. As online training on the subject shows, there are a number of reasons behind cliques forming, which include:
- People often simply get on well
- Staff feel safer when they feel part of a group
- Mistrust of other employees
- Distrust of management
The reasons can be benign and troublesome, so they will not always have a negative impact. However, you have to be so careful that others who aren't in the clique don't get adversely impacted socially or in their duties.
How Do You Stop Cliques In The Workplace?
So, how do you use your leadership and interpersonal skills to ensure these cliques don't start to harm your workplace environment and culture? As you'll find out by reading on, there's much you can do to mitigate the issue of cliques at work.
- Look For The De Facto Leaders
To promote a positive work atmosphere and get everyone's buy-in when creating it, you need to identify the informal or de facto leaders within the group. We're talking about the respected individuals within your employees who've perhaps not yet focused enough on their personal development plan to make the jump into management.
Approach these guys (or ladies) asking for help in making the workplace more inclusive, and you might find yourself with some valuable allies.
- Communicate the Message Of Inclusivity Clearly
As the boss, part of your remit is setting expectations for those who work for you. As such, you must clearly communicate what's expected from everyone company-wide in terms of inclusivity. This ethos should also hold a prominent place in your company values, as there's no ambiguity.
Whether this message is given verbally at a team meeting or passed on as part of praise given out to those practising inclusivity, you should leave everyone fully understanding what best behaviour looks like.
- Encourage Mingling At Team Events
One way to break up cliques is to encourage everyone to mingle, be it at work, at a work outing, or as part of corporate team-building activities. Breaking people up out of their usual groups forces people to speak to each more and perhaps even make new bonds that wouldn't have otherwise occurred.
However, you have to be firm on the purpose of these activities so as to prevent people from naturally falling into their usual groups. People like to sit with their friends, so if you're not clear about this, don't be surprised if everyone ends up in their usual cliques as a result.
- Provide Education On The Harm Cliques Can Cause
Sometimes, people fall into cliques without really knowing it, meaning that they might need to be educated on avoiding being too exclusionary. Whether you want to provide this education through workshops or short courses online is up to you, so long as it's offered.
You might be surprised about the impact this kind of education can have on team cohesion, mainly if it's something that's regularly reiterated.
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