The Office Clique Is Just The Tip

Why bad companies are like failed states.

The Office Clique Is Just The Tip

In my career, I've occasionally been accused of promoting tribalism.

(No, not like that).

Creating tightly-bonded cliques who felt like outsiders; talented players who outperformed the average but eventually saw themselves as bigger than the game.

Some of this was naïvety: mistakes made as a young leader still learning.

But I've always believed that fragmentation was a consequence rather than a cause of workplace dysfunction.

In a healthy company, individuals have bonds beyond their immediate team, the way a dedicated Arsenal player still knows to pick up the mantle for England when called upon. Club, and country.

But dysfunctional businesses are like failed states: full of factions and warlords. With no strong belief in leadership, individuals fight for themselves and those they care for. Because when you can't trust them, you can still have faith in each other.

Strong cliques are usually the sign of a workplace in which bad behaviour is tolerated, or where the bond of trust has been severed. A strongly fragmented staff signals a fundamentally broken culture.

Office cliques are just the tip of the iceberg. There's always something bigger.