It’s in human nature to long for community and belonging. That’s precisely why we are drawn to a circle of friends in our school years, why we’re happier in our jobs if we have friends there and why it’s complicated for us to pick up and leave our native communities. While a need for belonging isn’t something to be ashamed of, it can backfire when it yields a herd mentality.
Herd mentality (or pack mentality) leaves much to be desired but is unfortunately relevant in organizations around the world. This thinking has intimidation and hostility as its foundation. Members of the herd must comply with specific standards of behaving, thinking and speaking, or risk getting ousted by the others.
With herd mentality ruling, those who aren’t part of the group are considered outsiders who are not welcome to their inner circle. In organizations, this results in something called groupthink, a workplace phenomenon where employees are uncomfortable voicing opinions that conflict with the majority. While this can certainly be a personal issue when an individual’s self-doubt and diffidence cause them to prefer to blend in rather than stand out, most of the time, a company is unwittingly perpetuating a pack mentality culture.
Groupthink can cause workers to discount their instincts as unimportant and give in to the wishes of the loud majority. This can be detrimental to creativity and innovation in the workplace, as the more boisterous tend to drown out those who are more thoughtful and meticulous.
To fight off groupthink, companies must emphasize a culture where their staff will not be degraded or punished for contributing to concerns, ideas or dissenting perspectives. They must demonstrate that failure is okay, or else their teams will avoid taking valuable risks. After all, no one ever made progress just doing what they’ve always done.
Here are some ways to deteriorate the pack mentality in your place of business:
Allow for Some Anonymity
There are always going to be team members who are just less comfortable speaking up. Providing opportunities for anonymous feedback, questions and suggestions can be eye-opening for leadership. Create a workplace that honestly wants to receive these contributions, and be sure to retort all of the responses in front of the entire team.
When someone is brave enough to speak out, be sure to thank them for their thoughts. When teams are working through new concepts in unfamiliar territory, help them work through the logistics and remind them that taking risks can produce groundbreaking results. Destigmatize failure and boost their confidence so your business can reap the creative benefits.
Teach Courteous Dissent
Having unique perspectives inside a single workplace is a given. Learning to express those divergent views in a way that fosters a positive working environment is crucial, though. Ideas should always be seen as “the more, the merrier.” Never be afraid to admit that someone else’s idea is better than yours, and your team will surely follow suit.
Activate Active Listening
What does active listening look like? Undivided attention, eye contact, asking helpful questions, repeating key points and knowing you owe it to yourself to take away something valuable from everyone speaking. All voices matter.
Practice Radical Candor
Radical candor is being totally open to give and receive genuine, fast and objective feedback on anything. At Pipefy, the employees are encouraged to practice this kind of behavior in the workplace and out of it, too.
Second Guess the Group Nod
If everyone is silently nodding in agreement during team meetings, make sure it’s not because of social pressure. You won’t be getting the best and brightest ideas if a high-five culture is more important than a culture that makes every voice count. Companies should create an atmosphere of sharing where all employees are encouraged to come forward with any ideas they may have, and where teams help those ideas become a reality.
The more ideas companies pay attention to; the more likely employees will feel valued and motivated to produce their very best work. Pack mentalities should be reserved for the wolves.