Are you with the right tribe?5 Ways to Check on Whether You Are in the Right Workplace

When you consider who you spend your work day with – colleagues, clients, students, board members, etc – do you think you are with the right tribe?

Hopefully the answer to that question is a quick YES!  When we think about how much time we spend with these folks, they better be the right tribe.  And by tribe, I mean not only a group of professional colleagues but people who truly get you and you get them.  People who see you for the strengths and expertise you bring to your endeavors, both as a person and professional.  People whom you respect and who respect you.  People who are bonded together as a tribe, not just because you all work for ABC organization, but also because together you are just better.

I was reminded of how important it is for everyone to find their tribe this summer when I watched my husband, who is usually a lone wolf artist, bonding with a group of other artists at an art show.  Suddenly, he was better at everything from installing his art to talking about it with potential clients and I think it was in no small part because of the wonderful tribe of people around him.

We often think of the traditions of First Nation tribes in which each individual had their job, whether it was fishing or hunting or cooking.  But beyond the skill of actually doing the job, there was the value of knowing that you were moving in harmony with the broader group and that ultimately all of you would not only be fed and clothed but your spirit would be nurtured and you would feel a sense of purpose.

Isn’t a sense of purpose what is really at the heart of any successful organization or individual?  We need to have a sense of our own worth but there can be no doubt that having our worth supported and recognized by others in our tribe is incredibly powerful.

Here’s 5 questions you might want to ask yourself to not only check on whether you are with the right tribe, but also on whether you could make it the right tribe:

  1. How do you feel on a workday morning?  Do you literally leap out of bed ready to take on the new day, or is there a heaviness that sets in just thinking about it?  Do you feel better or worse when you walk in the door of your work place?
  2. How many of the people you work with know that you are an origami expert?  Or that you have a black belt in karate or make the best apple pandowdy this side of heaven?  You may feel that you don’t want to share anything about your personal life with your colleagues, but would it make a difference if they had a window into your life outside of work, and you had one into theirs?  Would it contribute to the bonding of the tribe?
  3. If you were drowning, would any of these people come to your rescue?  A client of mine recently said that if she were to throw herself off a bridge, she is confident that her CEO would crawl on her hands and knees over the rocks to rescue her.  Hopefully nothing that extreme happens, but would the members of your tribe throw you whatever lifeline you might need?
  4. Are you the odd person in the tribe or is it everyone else?  There can be little that is worse than feeling you are alone when surrounded by people.  While there may be times when being the “odd man out” contributes to the good of the tribe, it can be isolating and lonely.  Conversely, if you feel like it is all of your colleagues who are in the wrong place and not you, is it worth taking a closer look at that?
  5. If the culture of the tribe is not working for you or others, can it be changed?  Experts believe that most corporate or organizational cultures can be changed.  It may be a long and even painful process but the most important element is that everyone wants to change from the top person down to the person on the lowest rung.  If your tribe is not working, should you be the person to initiate the process of finding a cultural change expert?

If you think you might be in the wrong tribe, or would like to explore how you and your colleagues can get better at functioning as the right tribe, give me a call!

I still have some space in my career transition workshop in beautiful San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, November 30 to December 7, 2013 – check it out!

Linda Oglov