Initially, this topic of “Cliques” is confusing to write about; as we’re all human and naturally gravitate to like-minded individuals! We’ve all been apart of a clique… starting that awkward first day of school when our parents walked us in and sent us out into the “Real World”. We found a friend or two and a clique was born… and this repeated every year; of course with a few additions and subtractions! I had the honor of playing football and walking into a team of 60 brothers, but best believe, there are many cliques throughout a team. Then you enter the workforce, why would gathering with like-minded people stop now… and how could it become a professional or leadership problem?
The surprising thing is, “The Clique Issue” continues to arise as a top concern for leaders worldwide. As a Professional Speaker & Leadership Trainer, I’m often asked to address it in trainings with Leaders and more Front-Line Employees. The truth is, there are Pros & Concerns to everything… The Pro is, it’s human nature to form groups with like-minded people (cliques) and at least you have people that like each other within your organization! Also, iron sharpens iron and you want your best people connected, brainstorming ideas, and problem-solving together. The Concern is… division and mutiny amongst those you’re leading! When all of your “Inspired & Motivateds” isolate themselves, they limit their ability to positively impact, influence, and develop others… and themselves once promoted because they have limited connection skills to lead other types of Employees. When all of your “Grouches” form a clique, watch out! A mutiny is afoot, and believe me… they can recruit better than you! When all of your “New & Unknowns” for a clique, a division is quickly set between “Old Employees” and “New Employees”; the battlefield is set, and the war is on! I’ve provided Trainings for companies where the division of cliques were due to age, race, gender, or who would have thought… Leaders or Employees that were granted continuous permission to attend or travel events, meetings, or conferences together. A Clique is formed, power distributed, ego elevated, and division is set! So, what to do?
Going into my into my Junior Year of high school, I transferred schools and was slated to be the starting running-back. The day before the first game of the season, my coach approached me and informed me my grades were not good enough from my previous school and I’d have to miss the entire season. I was devastated and cried like a baby! Long story short, I tried out for a local semi-pro team and made it… 15 years old and all of 163 lbs! One night at practice, I was told to go into the building to select my number and jersey. As I entered the room, all excited to pick my number… I was surrounded by the Defensive Line and a 6-4, 295lbs monster grabbed me from behind and said, “Don’t fight it!”… what the hell! They doused me in shaving cream, syrup, etc. and opened the closet door and to my surprise… there were all my rookie teammates looking as ridiculous as me, Lol!
I’m not suggesting you do this to your new employees, however I am suggesting as an organization or Leader of your Team… something is done to properly welcome new Employees or Team Members other than that company-wide email! For example:
- A Welcome Meeting!
- Give a tour or virtual tour of the office!
- Send a gift basket to their office or home due to Remote Work!
- Take a picture and post it on a New Employee Wall!
- Provide an Employee Handbook; along with clear expectations of the job!
- Offer Job-Shadowing!
- Start a Mentor Program to get them acclimated with your “Inspired & Motivateds”!
- Decorate their office!
- My favorite is… Be sure to share your Leader’s 3: What the Team’s Vision is, The Vision Factors; the 3-5 things that when employees and the team do them consistently the Vision must come true, The Expectations, and The Rules. Most new employees want to do a great job, but need to know “The What” and “The How” from employees that actually care and not your “Grouches” teaching them how to cut corners or simply get by. You’d be surprised how many employees are hired and simply sit and wait for months with minimal direction, support, or work!
This Key is short and sweet, the number one thing Employees shared they needed from their Employer was the tools to be successful! I recently received an email from an employee; he stated he started a new job and was appalled by their lack of leadership and poor treatment of employees… few expectations were shared, expectations consistently changed without notification, few tools were provided to ensure success, and this Employee quit within a week! Therefore, as a Leader, be sure to SUPPORT all of your people… not just “The New & Unknown”, not just “The Inspired & Motivated”, but also the “Steady Streams”… those that don’t have a current dream of climbing the ranks or being the Top-Seller, but show up daily and do their job. Remember, during Covid… these were your Essential Workers!
Lastly, what Trainings (in-house, outside of the organization, virtual… or the World’s Best Leadership Training by Andre Young, Evolve & Lead, Lol!) are you offering to EVERYONE and in rotation to ensure cliques aren’t formed and company information, professional development, and organizational opportunities are equally distributed?
One great way to decrease at-work cliques and enhance leadership is to speak The 7 Professional Languages to your Employees and Teams! The Leader’s 7 are The 7 Professional Languages your people need, want, and benefit hearing most from leadership to best influence, impact, protect, and motivate:
- Quality Minutes!
- Recognition & Affirmation!
- Knowledge and/or Advancement!
There will always be cliques at work; 2 or more people that enjoy each other, that are like-minded, and converse regularly… That’s life and human nature. However, cliques become dangerous when they begin to receive “untouchable treatment” from the Leader or organization, when they begin to abuse their status by bending the rules or engaging in professional or personal abusive ways to leaders and/or coworkers, or when they form such an impenetrable bubble with their own set of rules. One way to ensure EVERYONE of your Employees and ALL of your Teams feels values it to learn how to speak The 7 I mentioned above!
As a leader, you must be able to speak and provide all 7; however each one of your People have a Top 1-2 that resonates with who they are and where they are professionally. When you use my Leader’s 7 Blueprint for your people to circle their Top 2… you may also see your Team favors a particular Language; making it easier to know what to provide for them. This individual and group care will make EVERYONE feel valued and lessen the pressure of having to be in a clique to get whatever they desire… Be Mindful and click https://youevolvingnow.com/andreyoungsleadershiptrainings/ to get you and your Team trained in The Leader’s 7 and how to speak it in casual times and in tough conversations!
Inclusion is a BIG word these days with the emergence of Diversity & Inclusion worldwide. I read a book a couple of years ago titled, “You’re Invited” and had the honor of having the author, Kristen Bakalar, on my Podcast (The Leader’s Toolbox Podcast). There were so many nuggets on how to invite fellow coworkers, leaders, and employees into conversations, meetings, and outside-of-work activities; the point is, cliques divide while including invites! Be sure to invite necessary people into meetings… at necessary times. Be sure to invite and include others in conversations. Be sure to invite and include others to working lunches or after-work happy hours and events. Be sure to appropriately include coworkers on necessary emails or your whatever your company’s messaging practices are.
One way I practice “Including” in my business with my Teams and during my Leadership Training is, The P.O.W… The Positive of the Week! To start the meeting, I share my Positive of the Week (professionally then personally) and ask three or four people to do the same within a two-minute timeframe. Each person receives an applause when they finish. Not only does it set the tone for the meeting… it breeds a human-to-human connection quicker than anything else; as you may have learned someone just became a grandmother, their child hit the game-winning shot, or they won a race over the weekend… all things you and others wouldn’t have known had you jumped right into metrics, product, and planning! Cliques will always exist, but they lose their power when EVERYONE within the organization feels seen, valued, and appreciated!
Sometimes, a clique can become all too powerful and unintentionally set an undesired culture within your company! Once a clique is formed, it may not be interested in inviting others in… or may be recruiting on their own. This is when Leadership gets tough… as you may have to break up the clique; not allowing the group to go on that Conference or Meeting across the country together any longer. Perhaps one person is allowed to attend, then come back to teach or share with the rest. Perhaps, you restructure the clique as to who will attend events… sharing your why, how, and what you wish to accomplish. They may not like your decision; however, your “Why” and Leadership must be bigger than their feelings. As I’ve said in the past… at times, we must be willing to sacrifice an occasional 2-Star Review for 5-Star Leadership… Be Mindful!
Note: Although race, gender, etc. are important… Inclusion goes beyond that and will enhance not only your Leadership & Work/Life Harmony, but also that of those you’re leading!
The final key to protecting your organization from cliques is, A Leader’s Protection! As a leader, you protect your people from themselves and their bad habits, from you and your accidental poor leadership, and from others (coworkers, customers, clients) by listening to their ideas and suggesting they accompany their problem with a suggested solution, filling their toolbox with ongoing trainings and updated skills for their ever-changing role, and addressing issues quickly!
I’ve found the best was to “Protect” is to honor your 1-on-1 Meetings… you know, the most canceled and rescheduled meeting across all organizations! Have them, start with the P.O.W., ask what they’d like to get out of the meeting, what do you want to get out of it, what’s the plan, and have it regularly. I explain more and the flow in my book, The Leader’s Toolbox. You now know more about decreasing and disarming cliques at work, I hope you enjoyed the read, and Enjoy Your Evolution!!!
“At times, we must be willing to sacrifice an occasional 2-Star Review for 5-Star Leadership… Be Mindful!” – Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
Ready to enhance Leadership & Work/Life Harmony for your people and organization? Click www.youevolvingnow.com to connect, chat, and customize Trainings with Andre Young!!!