The concept of conformity is not new. In social psychology it is defined as an individual’s tendency to show acquiescence or agreement towards a social group of which an individual is part of. There are numerous experiments that clearly exemplify this concept. In the same way, within an organizational culture, conformity could prevail in many ways, but the matter of concern is not that. Instead, it is that how it leads to numerous repercussions. The concept was first observed by Jenness (1932).
Conformity is defined as a tendency to express agreement to others, even when one’s own innate beliefs may be in disagreement to those of others. In an organizational scenario, it could be, for example, expressing preference for drinking so that one remains part of the organizational groups, even if in reality the person possesses strong aversion towards drinking.
Consequences of Conformity at Workplace
Some of the workplace outcomes of conformity may be as follows:
- Biases: Conformity could lead to strong opinions & biases which may be polarized & may lead to a common phenomenon known as Group-think, a concept proposed by Irving Janis of Yale University. Usually, groupthink results in irrational agreement with the group when in reality one has some different views pertaining to a concept. For instance, an employee may prefer phone calls over zoom video calls, but as per the group protocols, he/she has to adhere to the concept of attending zoom video calls. This is a form of conformity.
- A bane to personal growth: Conformity enables a loss of personal essence, as an individual becomes more driven to accept & agree with other colleagues. For example, one may prefer to work on one’s workstation, but just to accompany & be part of one’s group one may do otherwise. It may lead to unnecessary internal conflicts & hampered growth at an individual level.
- Conformity may result in Workplace monotony: Conformity may result in a stagnation, wherein all agree on a common point, & none wants to deviate from it individually. It may result in impediment towards change which may be disruptive for the organizational growth.
- Over-dependence: Conformity may create chaos & ambiguity in an individual’s mind stemming from excessive reliance on others, thereby losing individual identity & relying unnecessarily on others even for trivial matters. For instance, cherishing a group’s company to an extent, that being unable to work in their absence.
- Conformity impairs a diverse workforce: Conformity fosters a mutual consent which impedes diversity & inclusion of varying opinions.
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Interventions to deal with Workplace Conformity
There can be ways out to deal with Workplace conformity, some of them could be:
- Fostering a diverse workplace culture: It could be done through varying training programs which facilitate individual contribution & strictly prohibits groupthink or any kind of group involvement.
- Facilitating Cross-team participation: Facilitating more cross team involvement could break monotony & result in more individual involvement.
- Increasing individual accountability: Making an individual than a group responsible & take charge of various workplace things could facilitate individual contribution & strictly inhibit any form of social loafing or diffusion of responsibility.
- Being more accepting & welcoming of Organizational Change: Introducing novel stuff in workplace like gaming activities, individual employee productivity or monthly employee incentive programs could be some of the means that hinder stagnation & facilitate change in the workplace culture at an individual level. Since this demand more of individual participation, hence they can minimize group polarization.
Conformity is a common phenomenon which is omni-present. It may result in various consequences that may impede individual & organizational growth. The only way out to deal with it is being more vigilant about its prevalence & devising novel strategies proactively that mitigate its effect & facilitate a culture of individuality, autonomy & accountability. Associating with recruitment consultants in Noida can track and assure better human resources and help your companies avoid hustles.