Us Vs. Them: Understanding Division in The Workplace 

Us Vs. Them: Understanding Division in The Workplace 

Posted By

Workplace division is an “us versus them” culture where employees and leaders break into groups or cliques that create divisive forces. 

It is a very toxic environment, pitting workers and departments against each other, and it’s stating the obvious that this is not a place you want to find your business in. 

Here, we look at workplace division, its common causes, and effective solutions to create a more team-oriented workforce.

What Causes Workplace Division?

The list of reasons for workplace division is a long one, but we’ve condensed it to the usual suspects:

  • Strapped resources
  • Competing department needs
  • Competitive mindsets
  • Poor communication
  • Working in silos
  • Undefined responsibilities
  • Management favoritism
  • Ego-centric leaders
  • Leadership rivalries

Leadership clashes trickle down to subordinates, creating conflicts in the ranks.

What are the Results of Workplace Division?

Workplace division causes chronic dysfunction, creating rival teams, destroying collaboration, and building silos. 

It also fuels a toxic culture while encouraging poor practices that can create unhirable, unpromotable employees. As a result, employee morale suffers, productivity drops, and ultimately, customer satisfaction suffers. This has a direct impact on your business performance.

What are Signs of Workplace Division?

Again, there’s a laundry list, but here are the greatest hits, if you will:

  • Degrading communication: Division leads to what is often intentionally poor communication, such as ignoring emails, undercutting or disregarding advice or decisions, purposefully omitting people from communication pipelines or meetings, or an increasingly hostile tone.
  • The blame game: Because of the “us versus them” mentality, constant blaming, undermining the quality of rival teamwork, and nitpicking all indicate an emotionally fraught environment.
  • Redundant work: Poor communication increases the likelihood of redundant work among departments, impacting efficiency and wasting company time and money. The opposite can also be true where balls are dropped as no one takes responsibility for project deliverables.
  • Lack of teamwork: In the early stages, people might try to avoid each other, escalating to the point where rivals will openly refuse to work with each other.
  • Poor customer service: The “Us versus Them” way often spreads to customer service, where the customer is always wrong in the eyes of workers, deflecting blame for their own inefficiencies to avoid accountability

How to Prevent Workplace Division

The good news is that you can take preemptive steps so that you don’t find your company in an “Us versus Them” situation:

  • Create a clear code of conduct and ethics 
  • Provide discussion forums for your employees
  • Set up anonymous comment submission avenues for subordinates to report undesirable management methods
  • Prioritize acceptable behavior in your management training

How to Overcome Workplace Division

If you have witnessed dysfunctional team dynamics, act immediately with the following steps:

  • Acknowledge workplace division and introduce a zero-tolerance policy
  • Assess your management style to see if it is influencing your leaders
  • Create direct report accountabilities to remove blurred lines and avoid redundancies
  • Act immediately when you hear of or witness unacceptable leader conduct to reduce tensions
  • Hold a meeting with rival team leaders to address the problem and make it clear if the issue is not resolved, action will be taken
  • Hold your managers accountable for their team’s morale/attitude and ability to work with other managers/departments
  • Offer ongoing training and support for managers
  • Reconcile breaks among leaders
  • Introduce team-building events so people get to know each other on a more personal level 

The bottom line is that business owners are in the best position to create a respectful work environment that stresses teamwork, respect, and accountability.

About Focus HR, Inc.

Focus HR, Inc. uncomplicates the people side of business by providing small business owners with outsourced HR, project HR, and Leadership Coaching. For more information, please contact us today! If you liked this post, please subscribe to our blog. You can opt out at any time. 

To learn more about FocusHR and for updates, please like our Facebook page and follow us on LinkedIn.