The concept of a ‘job’ reaches back millenniums; as an early homo sapiens you’d have your role as rock collector, arrowhead-maker, cave painter, fruit-picker… to ensure your tribe was safe and secure in its devoted settlement; the sole purpose was survival. Over centuries, settlements became towns, which became cities, and the job pool got deeper and deeper, and the tribe required new skills and more collaboration in order to thrive as a mass race.
The definition of ‘tribe’ is used within the context of modern working culture in this article. Settlements and cities are now teams and departments. The workplace hierarchy is influenced by a developed theory that engages in psychological research of tribal development, which is split between five stages.
The stage in which an employee belongs is reflective of the co-workers and teams to which they gravitate, and their will to evolve or be thrown to the wolves. So, how do you identify which stage in the tribe theory you belong in? Let’s take a look.
This stage is reserved for those with limited ambition, immense workplace resentment, and a poor sense of work ethic. Their approach is reflected in their adverse glossary. For context, these are probably represented by society’s delinquents. They believe that the world is just a terrible place.
Stage two is satiated by a tribe of victims who are oppressed by their own existentialist misery that only their world is a terrible place. Stage two tribes are the wallflowers – their body language speaks volumes, as does their reluctance to convey passion or ambition. This tribe is described by theorists as ‘passively antagonistic’; they’ve been there, got the T-shirt, and have no interest to see how this time the process might succeed – it’s pointless.
Verging away from volatile self-esteem, stage three tribal development engages instead in a culture of narcissism. Imagine this tribal worker as self-obsessive, a relentless workplace gossip, and one who maintains a belief system that no one can live up to their standard. Conversely, stage three tribal development is made up of employees who are motivated to work, however, their vein of negativity is portrayed in co-worker disregard and a lone-wolf mentality. They feel unsupported and time-constrained.
Finally, stage four tribal development acknowledges team recognition, as such, there is a new space for leadership. The stage four tribe rejects the personal agenda of the preceding stage, therefore holds a greater preference for teamwork and collaboration. The focus on team is so vivid that if for any reason there is a breakdown, the individual suffers a sense of loss. A stage four tribal worker turns up, not just for the job, but for the camaraderie and sense of group success.
This tribe radiates passion, pride, and unlimited potential. It is here that tribe culture is developed and refined through the birth of values and commitment, and these resonate through the business. Collaboration is just as crucial as the ability to work independently. Stage five tribe exists to innovate, lead, and inspire.
Through a set of criteria, resolution, and self-awareness, it is perfectly achievable to climb the ranks in tribal development and to enhance your experience of work. The two key identifiers that place you within a certain stage are the words you use to express your feelings, and the relationships you form. By recognizing your shortfalls, growth becomes attainable.
In the eyes of the greater business, the advantage of acknowledging the tribe system is the ability to act upon it. By encouraging a next stage progression, a company creates an ecosystem built on self-sustenance and all-round elevation. Through identification, empathy, and motivation, business leaders can offer those at the earlier stages the chance to realize and implement their potential.