Culture can make or break a team. And that is never more true when it comes to an insular, inwardly focussed culture. It’s more prevalent than you would think. While they initially foster a sense of camaraderie, it can ultimately hinder growth and innovation. It also makes it especially difficult for newcomers to find their place.

Imagine walking into a workplace that is alive with activity, only to find yourself on the edges of tightly knit cliques and established routines. More often than not, this is completely unintentional and would be quite the shock for those clique members to hear about. These teams often inadvertently shut out fresh perspectives and new voices as they are so focussed on how well they have been doing.

So why do they develop in the first place?

Often, it’s a natural consequence of teams becoming very entrenched in their own ways. They prioritise familiarity over diversity, fearing change and resisting outside influence. While building a strong team culture is essential, it is also crucial to strike the balance between cohesion and inclusivity.

As a manager, the real challenge lies in fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and included. It starts with leading by example – promoting openness, collaboration, and respect for diverse perspectives. Encouraging team members to embrace change and seek out new ideas can break down barriers and cultivate a culture of curiosity and continuous learning.

When it comes to integrating newcomers into a team with an insular culture, empathy is key. Imagine being the new person trying to navigate unwritten rules and cliques within a team. IT can feel like trying to crack a secret code, with no sign of an instruction manual. As a manager, its important to create opportunities for cross-functional collaboration and mentorship, where experienced team members can guide and support newcomers as the acclimate to the team dynamics.

These insular cultures pose significant challenges, but with the right approach, they can be overcome. Managers leading by example and cultivating inclusivity, collaboration and continuous learning can help create thriving teams where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.