Whether or not you voted for Brexit or what you think of President Trump, it’s clear we’re witnessing a period of unprecedented and sweeping change. By voting to reject the established order, people are finding ways to ‘fight back’ – and doing so by reverting to a tribal mentality in our modern, connected world.
Tribalism is one of the big trends shaping politics, but it is also having an impact on the world of work. Modern day ‘tribes’ include mega-cities and other communities united by locality, spirituality or common interests. Each wants to reassert control over the decisions that affect their tribe.
Today’s tribes form and grow very quickly, and use social media to spread their message. They are also intensely loyal to their group. Harness that and power can quickly transfer, for example, to the community on whose land the mine is built rather than the company that owns the mine. Or to the virtual community with a particular interest, expertise or shared passion.
However, devolution to tribes can in some instances lead to greater self-interest and social disparity. For example, the 2017 Oxfam report, An Economy for the 99%, showed that the world’s eight richest men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world.
Within organisations, tribes can help employees navigate through periods of change but they can also work against a company’s goals, making it harder to engage the workforce.
And as the generations in the workplace change and new business challenges and opportunities arise, so tribes will continue to form and adapt. From sustainability to social purpose, the need to ‘fight back’ against the corporate machine seems to be the focus for 2018.
“Tribes form all the time. What makes workplace tribes a little different is their staying power. Even if you leave a company, you’ll probably keep in touch with some of the people you worked with,” says Dave Logan, co-author of Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization.
Based on the findings of a 10-year study involving 24,000 people in more than 20 organisations, the book claims that tribes are more powerful than teams, companies, or even CEOs. The success of a company, it says, depends on a positive tribal culture.
In the years ahead, companies will need to find ways to connect with this hotchpotch of groups – both internal and external – and form closer links between their brands and the tribes.
The audiences and the channels through which we communicate with these tribes will also become more varied and bespoke – and that’s something we’re already seeing in the world of internal communications.
So how can we find a way to help companies get the best out of their own tribes? Well we use the communications tribe of course!
So come on, join the communication tribe. Everyone’s welcome.