How To Deal With Cliques

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How To Deal With Cliques: A Mathematical Formula For Great Teamwork III

We are using the BOMDAS formula to strengthen teamwork.

BOMDAS is an acronym for Brackets| Of | Multiplication | Division |Addition | Subtraction

Under Brackets we established that Belonging is essential if the team is to achieve high levels of success – in our homes, in our workplaces, and in any group. We placed responsibility for achieving bonding and cohesiveness on the shoulders of the Team Leader.

While the brackets signify inclusion, they also indicate that some things should be kept separate. Including what should be excluded produces the wrong result!

Leaders must exclude anything that negatively impacts their teams.

Culprit #1: Cliques or Informal sub-groups

Among the greatest challenges to the smooth running of a group is the presence of a clique. The clique is a small set within the group that looks to a source other than the official leader for leadership. Cliques have the tendency to undermine the influence of the team leader — deliberately or as a by-product of their agenda.

What can a team leader do to limit the influence of cliques?

The first thing to note is that a clique should not be ignored as it could present a major challenge if allowed to grow in influence.

Note also that threats, ostracism, imposing muzzling rules and any method that relies on coercion will not produce sustained positive results. At best they drive the clique underground and set the stage for guerrilla warfare.

A clique exists because there is the perception of unmet needs – voices not being heard; unhappy with treatment or an aspiration for a greater share of power etc.

A leader’s effectiveness is enhanced by their capacity to uncover unfulfilled needs and then address them to the satisfaction or acceptance of the affected parties.

Here are some steps in your plan to address the challenge of a clique within your group:

Step 1: Review the issue of shared vision, goals and objectives.

  • Use information gathering techniques – surveys, focus groups, informal discussions – to glean information on the aspirations of team members.
  • Work to identify key areas of alignment of team member objectives with formal team objectives.
  • Carefully isolate factors that are not aligned and have the potential to be disruptive or distracting.

You should recognize that the quality of the information received from this exercise is directly related to the environment that has been created. Where there is low trust and a sense that leadership is not committed to the empowerment of team members, people are likely to suppress their true feelings. No matter who is responsible, as leader you must sell “I am different. This initiative is different”.

Step 2: Camp out on identified shared objectives

Place laser-focus on things held in common.

Effective leaders latch on to 2 – 3 shared objectives. They then package and sell them such that they are seen as the glue that holds the team together. If the objective is to win the Gold Medal in the relay then get the stars to run their assigned leg without fuss.

Leaders in every sphere must meet the challenge of identifying goals and objectives that can serve as the glue that holds the group together. When teams are guided into uniting around shared purpose their capacity for high performance is unlimited.

But it is not all milk and honey.

One particularly difficult clique arises when someone believes that they are better equipped to lead the group or for some reason refuses to embrace the leadership of the official leader. Ostracizing that individual and their supporters does not provide a sustained solution. Finding a mutually acceptable role for the individual in the process is a more viable solution. Reconcile rather than exile!

Leadership requires a transformed mind-set.

Our upcoming SHRM accredited “3-D Leader Certification” addresses dimensions not covered in traditional leadership training.

Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy which is recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM Certifications.

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Cohesiveness: How We Use Maths To Improve Teamwork

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We are using the BOMDAS formula to strengthen our relationships in teams.

It is an acronym that depicts the order of operation:

Brackets| Of | Multiplication | Division |Addition | Subtraction

We are dealing with Brackets. Brackets speak to inclusion; belonging.

Belonging is essential if the team is to achieve high levels of success – in our homes, in our workplaces, and in any group. Groups experience different levels of bonding, unity or team spirit – what I call cohesiveness.

Yet, cohesiveness plays such a critical role in the life they experience.

History is replete with records of sports teams that triumphed primarily on the basis of their cohesiveness while the loser’s column is filled with those who were caught up in on and off the field strife and disunity.

Why is cohesiveness – bonding, unity, team spirit – so important? The oft used –Together Each Achieves More applies. Group work is more effective that independent individual effort.

It is useful to examine what is a team and why they add value.

My preferred definition is:

A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals and approaches for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

What can we learn from this definition?

A. People with complementary skills.

Team work incorporating Team Cohesiveness does NOT mean that everybody has to be same. Successful teams need people to bring different talents, perspectives and ideas to the table.

One sign of a successful team is the fact that it helps its members to achieve self-fulfillment. Team leaders must empower team members.

B. People who are committed to a common purpose.

The glue that holds the team together is the commitment to the common purpose. Without the commitment to the common purpose the team loses its compass.

Without the commitment to the common purpose, members do not have any point of reference that can hold them together. It is like using rubber bands to tie a team of wild horses together.

Commitment has two distinct and critically important components:

1. There must be a clearly identified purpose that is understood in the same way by all the members of the team.

2. The second component is that all the members of a functional team commit to the same understanding of the common purpose.

One indelible sign of a dysfunctional team is the fact that some members are wavering in their commitment to the common purpose.

C. People who are committed to a set of performance goals and approaches.

  •  Successful teams know where they are going. They also know how they are going to get there. In addition, they know if they are on track.
  • Successful teams are clear on the strategies and the activities that will lead them to the achievement of the common purpose.
  • Successful teams have guidelines and yardsticks that indicate to them whether they are on course or not.
  • ​Successful teams do not lose bearing and lose momentum because they have set performance goals that keep them on track.

In successful teams members:

  •  Know and commit to the performance goals. They understand that the guidelines and yardsticks are tied to the attainment of the common purpose.
  • Understand and buy into an agreed approach that is tied to performance goals that lead to attainment of the common purpose.
  • Do NOT come up with their own approaches and guidelines as they deem fit. This issue of the importance of commitment to the team and its values is not widely understood and accepted. That is why there is so much conflict and lack of cohesiveness in households, in work groups, in organizations, in communities and the wider society.

D. Team members must be mutually accountable.

Without accountability things fall apart. Great teams accept the need for discipline and team members are open to receiving feedback.

LEADERSHIP has a critical role in addressing these issues.  The upcomingSHRM accredited 3-D Leader Certification deals directly with those challenges among others. It deals frontally with successfully leading difficult, dominant and diverse team members.

Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification Coach with the Success with People Academy which is recognized by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM Certifications.

Home of the ICF accredited “Certified Behavioural Coach Award.”

Joint venture partner Extended DISC/FinxS

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