Joining Bands & Taking a Side In Conflicts

At the university times, I took a long break to start a training in a big company. It was really a big one. There were several bands there; family members working in that company used to be, and I guess still are, forming teams. They ate together, left the company together, took breaks and spent them together, etc.

This seems to be good and accepted by the superiors. The company policy is not against that, too. Yet, when a trainee joins a company whose staff form solid and separated bands, and joins one, he cannot join a different one.

By joining a band, it might be that that band is put under microscope. The superiors might have an intention to break its ties, because it harms the global staff harmony. If a trainee joins one of the already formed bands, he can become micro-checked, and the mistakes made at the level of his work will be considered bigger than they really are.

The bands that can exist within companies can be formed by one of the following groups:

  • Family members,
  • People from the same fatherlands,
  • Followers of the same religion,
  • Friends,
  • Ex-classmates,
  • Ethnic groups,
  • A couple, especially in small companies,
  • Gays or lesbians.

There are some sorts of bands in every company, and I wish you can remark the ones existing where you take training. Noticing this is vital  to every new trainee. Why? Good question!

To give an answer to this, please allow me to share this piece of experience of mine with you:

In early 2007, I was working with an association which had a project that dealt with infancy issues. A friend of mine was taking the same training. As time went by, I found myself working all the time with him. Not only was he a friend, and still he is, but also we share the same fatherland. The mistake I fell in was working with him ONLY.

We DID FORM a band, a team. We did all the work assigned to us together. This sounds good. On the other hand, we did not work with other people, which made us miss a big opportunity to learn. We did not know most of what the others had been doing.  We, or at least I, acted very stupidly.

Once we finished what was assigned to us, we just left. We did not share anything with others. The issue that made things worse was a variance that took place between my friend and a guy from another “team”. We were not the only people making that mistake. The result was that I took my friend’s side and automatically started avoiding the other man. I made another mistake. I took side in a conflict.

The story is long and has links to other chapters, but the lesson I learnt from it is the number of drawbacks that result from  joining bands. Here are some:

  • Isolation from the other groups,
  • Being more noticeable and more likely to be micromanaged,
  • Becoming against some “innocent” colleagues,
  • Wasting big opportunities to learn and to get promoted,
  • Falling in a sort of racism, when sticking to a group of people from the same religion or race and rejecting the rest.

It is very good to have friends wherever you go. It is nice to work with people with whom you feel together. It is nice to find people who share a lot with you. By joining bands, all these rarely take place. Instead, if an argument or a fight happens between two members of different teams, serious drawbacks are invited to the relationships between the both team members.

If joining a band is an absolute result of the nature of work, remaining away from supporting anybody will make your experience much better. Power balance changes a lot and taking sides in conflicts might make you face serious troubles.

Employees in most companies undergo the experience of being either with “us” or “them” or another “them”. Interests differ. Experience makes people support others and make mistakes towards others. You need to never be in the starring list. If you are a new training, just stay neutral.

This mistake takes place when we realize that we are working with a person who has the same sexual orientation, if we are gays or lesbians. When it comes to religion, people automatically form groups with those who believe the same. They eat the same food and pray at the same time or even plan meetings outside the workplace to make their “band” more harmonious.

In all the cases above, a trainee should focus on his training more than anything else and never make himself a part of any group. This way he will look more professional and will be liked by everybody through avoiding the “us” vs “them” attitude.