Dealing With Difficult People At Work in Cliques

by on June 29, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Cliques can result in Dealing With Difficult People at work

In a perfect world, we’d all behave like grown-ups, and be as collegial and pleasant as can be. All while being extraordinarily productive and “owning” our jobs. No need to worry about dealing with difficult people at work. Uh-huh.

But, as it turns out, adults in the workplace behave a lot more like high schoolers than anyone likes to admit.

According to a recent study of 60 companies, put people together in a group and in no time at all cliques can form, just like they did in the high-school lunchroom. You got your preppies, your suits, your jocks … sound familiar?

Productivity tanks
People connect with one another based on common interests, gender, age, race or other similarities, in a process shrinks call homophily. This clustering is human nature. And in the workplace, employees use these networks to get the jobs done. But let cliques form and they can sabotage productivity and morale, especially if they turn exclusionary or malignant. People on the outside can’t talk to those on the inside. And people in the clique rarely share what they know with outsiders.

Dealing with difficult people at work
The more co-workers interact with others, and the more aware they are of colleagues’ skills, the easier it is for everyone to share information and solve problems.

Some ideas on dealing with difficult people at work:

  • Seek opportunities to expand your staff’s contacts, serving on cross-functional teams or as internal financial consultants.
  • Reform or mix up work groups so different people work together and cross train.
  • Develop a staff directory listing everyone’s biographical information, skills inventory and interests.
  • Sponsor company-wide team-building events such as paintball or horseback riding.

Take a look at your own behavior. Have you come to rely on an “inner circle” you consider key advisors? That’s a polite way of saying “clique.”

Based in part on “The Hidden Power of Social Networks,” by Rob Cross and Andrew Parker. ISBN 1591392705.

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