When beliefs and identity become blurred, people – and organizations – become entrenched; and they refuse to compromise, budge, or even listen with an open mind. This is bad for business and for personal relationships.
Some signs of entrenchment in your team or organization include:
- Members of a group experience shared events differently and prefer to interact only with those who have the same feelings, opinions, and observations.
- People with surface-level characteristics (such as race or age) bond and engage together almost exclusively and view others based on commonly held stereotypes.
- People with similar knowledge bases (such as education) form their own ‘think tank’ and don’t value the input of colleagues with a different skill or educational level.
- People have deeply held identities with a political or ideological group, religion, community, sports team, etc. to the point that they don’t engage with or respect others who don’t share their identity.
Watch how your team members interact with each other and engage in the physical and virtual workspaces. Who talks with who? Who share inside jokes? This can help you determine what subgroups exist, who might be aligned, and how you might bridge the gap with other groups.
Of course, some would say that entrenchment isn’t necessarily bad when entrenched subgroups work well together within their teams. Managers can harness the work of these subgroups to help them understand the divisive forces at play and how to address them.