The Ingroup and the Outgroup

by Bronwyn

When we are mixing socially there is often a group we identify with and so they are our ‘ingroup’. We feel comfortable with them and we connect with them. In addition it is probably more likely than not that our beliefs and values are aligned as well. Then there is the group of people that never ‘feel’ right. This is the ‘outgroup’. You try to connect but it just doesnt feel the same. Instead it feels like hard work. You keep trying to find a commonality or a point of connection but it is really challenging. If the ingroup is important to be a part of then you are probably spending a lot of time trying to work out how to break into this group. They occupy a lot of your thinking time.

This concept also occurs in companies. As a leader, you will feel more comfortable with the people who ‘get’ you and who are seemingly aligned with your vision. You may not necessarily spend more time with them as you find they understand what is required and are self motivated. But those in the ‘outgroup’ take up a great deal of your time. You become preoccupied with trying to get them to perform in the same way as the other group. However in all your attempts nothing really seems to be happening. A great deal of time is spent but not a great deal of results. The more emphasis you put on this group the more intense it feels for the people in the group. The final result is that everyone feels a high level of stress. Thus returning to the ‘ingroup’ feels like a dream. They are easy to manage and results flow.

So what do you do about this ‘outgroup’ and how can you turn this around? The first step is to identify if you have hired the right people. Once you have clarity around this then outline the plan you want to turn this from an ‘outgroup’ into an ‘ingroup’ including time frames. Openly and honestly talk with the group about how you feel. It is highly likely that the level of trust between you is limited and the second step may be to build trust. Once you have a plan, then follow through, observing how you treat people in the ‘ingroup’ ensuring you are doing the same for the ‘outgroup’. Overtime this shift will create a large results driven team, in and out groups will be gone and more harmony and streamlining of the business goals and strategies will also be achieved.