Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Group Norms in the Corporate World--and then some.



Normal: of and/or pertaining to the norms.
Norms: prevalent characteristics of a demographic subset.

Take three groups of people, perhaps in a corporate setting--accounting, marketing, or the most affable of all, sales. Your choice. Now, let's look at some of the norms. 

a. In Group A, the group eats in the same restaurant every Friday and splits the check with each person paying his or her own share. (Sounds like the accounting department.) 

b. In Group B, the group never eats in the same restaurant twice. The bill is divided evenly among the members of the group. (Sounds like marketing.)

c. In Group C, each week a different member picks the restaurant and picks up the tab for all. (Sounds like sales.)

Each group, for the purposes of this discussion, has group norms: how to decide where to eat, how to divide the bill. These are the prevalent characteristics of the three demographic subsets. The "norms of the group".

An essential aspect to the cohesion and success of each group is the individuals' embracing the norms of the group.

This is not, nor has it ever been, an objective right or wrong; good or bad; or superiour or inferiour assessment. 

These examples, however, do demonstrate a difference or differences, diversity, if you will. Diversity is a word firmly rooted in the word different.

Moving on.

If one of the employees transfers to a different department, there may be problems arising from the transfer. How does the employee respond to the norms of the new group? There are about five possibilities:

Find a group that embraces the same norms.
Start a new group.
Do not join a lunch group

Change the norms of the new group to accommodate his/her needs.
Conform to the norms of the new group.

I separated the options into two groups. The first three involve personal activity. The remaining two involve the norms: changing the norms or conforming to the norms. How the employee deals with the options is in part a matter of culture.

From the Quotations of Slim Fairview: "Everybody knows what everybody knows." 

Initially it means, "you can talk for a thousand years but you are wasting your time." 

It also means we will be polite when you are speaking. 

The downside to this is that people believe we've accepted and embraced what they have told us. They become upset when they find this not to be the case. This leads to hostility. 

This is one reason why among the most congenial people, whose who evidence little contention, little is said about anything; because "every body knows what everybody knows".



Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview
All rights reserved.

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