The Danger of Workplace Cliques-Low Trust in the Workplace

This post is the 4th in a series dealing with Low Trust in the Workplace.  My most recent post in this series dealt with inability to manage conflict and can be accessed by clicking on this link.

The other areas I have identified as trust-killers in the workplace include:

  1. Lack of Communication or no communication
  2. Inability to give honest, direct, and timely feedback
  3. Unwillingness to deal with conflict
  4. Growth of Cliques
  5. Growing Employee Turnover

One other area that really decimates trust in the workplace is the presence of cliques in the workplace.  Finding ways to break up or prevent cliques from forming can really help to build trust in your workplace, but allowing these pervasive groups of self-serving and exclusive employee groups to form can invade your firm like a cancer.

When I think of a clique in the workplace, it often brings to mind the videos we see of lemmings, where they follow one another into danger with no thought at all about what they are doing.  Any clique has a leader that gets the ball rolling and the important thing is to identify the leader and find a way to change his/her thinking or find a way to exit them from the organization.  it is similar to surgery.  In some cases you can use some type of less-invasive therapy such as coaching to neutralize or modify the clique leader's thinking.  In the more radical cases, you need to act like a surgeon and extract the malignant member so that the thinking is not allowed to metastasize throughout the body of the organization.

All organizations will have leaders that have followers.  The most important thing is to ensure that all of these leaders are focused in the same direction, sharing the same vision, and engaging their followers to act in unison with the entire body.  Having those strays who head off in tangential directions only causes pain for their followers and confusion for the entire body.  Many who confront these rogues hear their inner voices screaming to do something, but we often ignore this message and let the trouble makers proceed with their diversions. 

Low Trust has many causes, but focusing on cliques that head in their own direction is one way to build and solidify trust within your organization.

If you identify these rogue leaders, you have two choices.  One will be to redirect them or the other will be to extract them.  Don't waste time because the price of extraction is much larger than the price of redirection.