Know what is the In thing now

Navigating the Pitfalls of Conformity and Collusion in the Workplace

Conformity and Collusion at workplace

In the complex dance of workplace interactions, the delicate balance between leadership, collaboration, and individual expression often teeters on the edge. A common but insidious trap awaits both managers and employees alike—conformity and collusion. This dynamic, often triggered by negative feedback or criticism, can erode motivation, trust, and innovation within teams. Recognizing and addressing these behaviors is crucial for fostering a healthy workplace environment.

What is Conformity?

Conformity, the act of aligning behavior with social norms to avoid exclusion, conceals a deeper impact on individuals. When subjected to conformity, employees may enter a freeze state in the nervous system, leading to confusion, hopelessness, and diminished creativity. The accompanying surge of cortisol can result in anxiety, prompting desperate attempts at people-pleasing to seek approval and connection. Repeated conformity may plunge individuals into a state of learned helplessness, marked by a decline in crucial neurotransmitters responsible for stress resilience and empathy.

What does Collusion mean?

Collusion, on the other hand, involves individuals conspiring for unfair advantages out of fear of rejection. This creates an in-group/out-group dynamic, triggering heightened arousal and negative emotions like frustration or impatience. Colluders may exhibit contempt, avoiding perceived inferior colleagues or hoarding resources to discourage collaboration. Dopamine and oxytocin, released during collusion, provide a false sense of reward by establishing bonds through exclusion and gossip.

How to negate the effects

Mitigating the effects of conformity and collusion demands proactive leadership strategies. Leaders should interrupt these dynamics when observed, using phrases like “I’m noticing there is a lot of tension in the room. Can we dial this back a moment and address…?” This real-time intervention helps maintain a conducive environment and mitigates collusion’s side effects.

Tactical empathy, another powerful tool, involves noticing, naming, and managing emotions. Leaders should address emotional states openly, fostering problem-solving dialogues to resolve issues constructively. Providing one-on-one guidance to individuals in a state of conformity encourages them to express themselves authentically, restoring a sense of agency and control.

Hold those who collude accountable by promoting integrity, vulnerability, courage, candor, and directness. Leaders should offer clear feedback and encourage self-reflection to help colluders understand the impact of their behavior on the team.

Leaders confident in their values set an example by resisting conformity even amid consensus, fostering a workplace culture that values authenticity. By translating these anti-collusion tactics to employees, leaders create an environment of psychological safety, enabling teams not just to survive but to thrive. Recognizing, understanding, and actively addressing conformity and collusion can be transformative, steering organizations towards innovation, trust, and sustained motivation.

You might also be interested in

Get the word out!