Are You in In-Groups?

Are You in In-Groups? In-groups and out-groups Companies don’t like admitting there are in-groups and out-groups—it conflicts with the one-big-happy-family thing they have going. They want to believe that everybody is equally valued and there are no first among equals. But, of course, organizations are set up exactly that way. There are in-groups at every level of a hierarchy, usually consisting of the boss and some of his immediate subordinates. So your boss is in more of an in-group than you by virtue of his position. So, in-groups abound, most centered around the boss. (I’ll deal with peer-centered in-groups later). Being part of one can bring many benefits. So, my first question is: Are you in the in-group? This might seem a silly question but sometimes people don’t know. You are usually part of the in-group[1] if: You’re the boss’ go-to guy. If you hear what’s coming down the pipe first and particularly if the boss asks your opinion of the new development, you’re probably in the in-group. But we need to distinguish between expert opinion and judgment opinion. Your boss might ask you something in your area of expertise. This is just fact-finding. When the boss asks your opinion…

Is There an In-Group at Your Work?

Is There an In-Group at Your Work? It’s a silly question to some If you have a boss who clearly favors some subordinates, and especially if you’re not one of the chosen, this seems a silly question as it’s as plain as the nose on your face that an in-group exists at your work. But for those either new to work or to the concept, it can be hard to tell. Is there an in-group at your work? There probably is, in that it’s just human nature for the boss to turn to people who’ve been with her a while, whose judgment she values, or who have a perspective she finds helpful. But the presence of an in-group is not as important as whether their special status affects your ability to do good work and be respected for it. Here are some ways to assess this: If you see a couple of the in-group talking, do you feel free to go up and ask, “What’s up?” and do they respond by including you in the discussion? Or do you have to be sure it’s a non-work exchange before you break in? If something happens you don’t like, can you say…

My Boss Plays Favorites
Employee Stream , Power for Employees / December 11, 2017

My Boss Plays Favorites What it is As I mentioned in other posts, your boss creating an in-group is not unusual and even to be expected. Except when he plays favorites. He: Gives plum assignments only to them Re-assigns a project if a favorite wants it Gossips, you suspect, with the favorites about other employees Allows the favorites leeway no one else is given, like getting in late, slacking off, ‘business’ trips. What it looks like You: Tony, Hiro [Tony’s favorite] asked me about my surgery. I told you that in confidence. Tony (your boss): I’m sure he was just being sympathetic—it’s a big deal. You: That’s not the point—I told you that in confidence. Tony: I had to. He’s taking over when you’re off. You: Hiro! But he doesn’t have the background—he’s never done high level strategy. Tony: Good chance to learn. You: But so many files are at crucial points. Wouldn’t Rebecca be better— Tony: You just need to make sure you brief Hiro well. If you are hoping that Tony will slap his forehead and say, “Oh, my god, I have been playing favorites,” you’re going to wait a long time. What to do One option is…

Benefitting from Being In
Employee Stream , Power for Employees / November 7, 2016

Benefitting from Being In So you’re in the in-group. You’re invited to the TGIFs and the bull session isn’t complete without you. Congratulations. However, a seat at the table is not enough. If all you do is laugh at their jokes and nod vigorously, you’ll gradually but surely slip out of the in-group. To stay in, you need a presence. And preferably not as court jester. You need to add value to be in line for the plum assignments and other perks. How? Good interventions When first included, you may not know the topic or perspective needed. Do some homework. Zero in on where to make an effective intervention. Being for or against is not usually enough. Make substantive points. Fit them in as appropriate but don’t cram. Even one effective intervention will add credibility. Don’t talk off the top of your head. Prepare to impress. Make the point quickly Often people have good points but don’t say them effectively and quickly. They give the impression of thinking out loud. Don’t assume you can. You’re untested and the group won’t sit through your musings. Practice the effective and quick words which will make your good point. If you pique interest,…

Is It Worth Being In?
Employee Stream , Power for Employees / October 31, 2016

Is It Worth Being In? It’s a lot of work to manage your position in the group. And sometimes sacrifice. So do you even want to be in? The answer is usually yes Generally speaking, the in-crowd gets the most perks, the best assignments, the most forgiveness for screw-ups. There are more chances to strut your stuff and line up the next promotion. So, lots of good career reasons why it’s better to be in. But that isn’t always true. When you don’t want to be in Peer led in-groups Sometimes in-groups form which are not boss-led. They may be all the cool guys or at least those who think they are. They’re often more social than work-oriented. Join the group because it’s fun or exciting but not for your career. Groups opposed to the company goals This kind of group does exist. Members don’t buy the company’s direction, don’t trust management, and believe they could run things better. All of which may be true, but they often enjoy scepticism more than rectifying. Eventually, you’ll tire of cynicism which goes nowhere. You don’t need to be Pollyanna, but neither is it helpful to run with a crowd uninterested in making…