How to Break up Office Cliques

How to Break up Office Cliques

While being a part of an office clique may sound appealing to some people, it actually does more harm than good. Turn your office clique members into a proactive and well-organised team where success doesn’t depend on who fits in a popular group.

You’ve just come to work and grabbed your first morning coffee. On your way to the office, you hear a few of your colleagues chatting lively about what they did at the weekend. It’s Monday morning and everyone is eager to have a few laughs before they get down to work.

You also want to dive into a conversation, so you approach them and ask how was their weekend. Suddenly, there’s an awkward silence in the room. Everyone seems to be avoiding an eye-contact with you and there’s not much to talk about. What you’re experiencing is an office clique.

According to a dictionary definition, a clique is a small-knit group of people who do not readily allow others to join them.

As much as we would like to believe that these kinds of things only happen during our adolescence period, it’s surprising that almost 43% employees report there is at least one clique at their job.

Having a group of people who share the same beliefs and distinguish themselves from the group either by their attitude or expertise is one thing. However, when that kind of formation is siphoning energy out of your team’s work and when it hinders the quality of the final result you are striving for it’s a whole different game.

For example, if one team member covers for another one for something wrong he has done, it can severely damage the final outcome. This is when you as a project manager need to step into the game and prevent the obvious detrimental effect the clique has both on the business and teamwork in general.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that cliques lack diversity. A group of tightly connected peers may form an impenetrable circle that simply doesn’t approve of diverse perspectives. But, as we all know, that the most inspiring ideas were born in highly-collaborative environment where people welcome differences and promote healthy competition.

If you want to build and maintain a healthy team culture, you need to be there for your team. You need to show them that while it's completely human to gravitate towards one person or another, it’s also important to spend time with other co-workers, offer assistance and return the favor.

To trigger this behavior, you need to break the clique and reorganize your entire team. Assign new tasks to each member of the clique and break the entire team in a few new groups. This way, each member of the clique will become a part of a new group where they will not have enough time to derail social dynamics.

Keep in mind that once you decide to reorganize your team, it may be difficult to track the performance and communication flow within each and every group, and most importantly to see if this change is making any progress. ActiveCollab is there to help you not only assign members to new teams but also distribute tasks and track communication flow. This is easily done in just a few steps:

1. Redistribute your team members across new projects in a way it doesn’t hinder productivity nor the project itself. Assign the team members that belonged to the clique to new projects and get them involved in new teams.

This way, you will have an insight into who is doing what at daily basis.

2. While new team members will undoubtedly communicate internally within a group, it doesn't mean much if you can’t have a written record of it. Encourage your team members to provide necessary feedback in ActiveCollab by commenting directly on the task, and have open discussions so that everyone can keep a track of what’s going on at any given moment. If the communication turns into a prolonged debate, you can always move that communication in the discussion section.

A member of the clique will now have to pull the equal weight as every other member of the team. New team members will not cover them as friends from the clique would.

3. Once the tasks have been created, you need to become involved in them to be able to see how things are evolving. Subscribe to any newly-created task or project you want to keep track of just in case certain discussion turns into conflicts. In that case, it’s your duty to find the most adequate and appropriate way to solve them.

What method you will use and how you will apply it depends on the type of conflict, the initiator and the problem at hand.

4. The easiest way to see if the this is making any improvements is to use your team’s reports and make the comparison between the efficiency and productivity level of an old and a new team. If there’s any progress, then you are doing a great job. If not, reorganize your team once again and see if that helps your team to gel bit also become highly performing individuals.

ActiveCollab can help you reorganize your team and assign them to new tasks so that neither project nor team suffers. 

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