What is a Workplace Tribe?

How to Find the Right People For Your Tribe in Today’s Workplace

Teams, Groups, Departments– these are just some of the titles common in the workplace today. Growing in popularity is the term, “tribe.” A tribe, unlike a team or department is not necessarily made up of your closest co-workers. A tribe is made of co-workers who you trust to give you honest, direct feedback and wise response when you ask for it.

Traditional corporate org charts, even during COVID times, may not be helpful in fostering collaborative settings for peer development and support. By consciously building a tribe within your organization, you will begin to unlock more opportunities to grow and develop as a leader and foster a better organizational culture. A tribe is a hand-picked group that is committed to each other’s development.

There’s No More “Watercooler” to Talk Around

The old corporate standard keeps communication stuck within departments and creates barriers to growth. There used to be the water cooler or the coffee room, where people met and spoke informally, made new acquaintances and were able to ask for other’s opinions, insights and suggestions. By building a tribe, employees can create channels of communication that can exist across teams, departments, and generations. Building a tribe in the workplace helps the employee have more choice about who to reach out for and for what specific topic.

Think of a tribe like your own personal set of teachers, truth-tellers and mentors, each possessing one or more “superpowers.” Not everyone is good at everything (which is why 360s are so antiquated in their approach to development). While it’s great to create a tribe, the key is to consistently reach out for support from them and be willing to support others.

A company that wants to support continuous learning should adopt the tribe mentality.

The Backfeed+ app makes tribe communication easy and efficient. Employees are using more technology to get work done, learn and connect. Mobile devices are at the center of daily communication and readily making their way into the workplace. Backfeed+ is a mobile app where employees can build their tribe and communicate in the same ways they already communicate with others–on their smartphones.

The workplace tribe increases employee productivity through better, faster, feedback, and Backfeed+ is a mobile app to facilitate these opportunities for peer-based support and learning. The next step is to find the right people to include in your tribe. Here are 3 tips to get started building your tribe in today’s workplace.

1. Less Than 7 is Best.

A tribe in your workplace should not include more than 7 members. Think about the key people you admire, what they are really good at and those that interact with you enough to provide support based on observation. Think quality over quantity. Be sure to invite those who might not always agree with you or have the same qualities. Look for those who are perhaps more skilled than you are currently. People love to give support when they know they are masterful at the subject. And while your mom might have known you for a long time, keep your selections within your organization or key consultants and partners that you work with regularly.

When choosing the members of your tribe choose wisely, invite people that will be honest brokers. Choose members whom you know you can be appropriately vulnerable with. (FYI that might or might not be your boss!) It’s often the moments when you feel most uncomfortable, when you have the most growth. Look for people you trust, not just those who agree with you.

2. Be Proactive. Ask for Feedback Regularly.

A recent study by Dr. Tessa West, of NYU discovered that receiving feedback is as stressful as giving it. (No wonder managers are not giving out enough!) But when the receiver is proactive about asking for feedback, they are neurologically primed to be more receptive and less stressed. So go ahead and ask for feedback. Asking a few people once or twice a week or after an important meeting can go a long way to helping you develop more quickly.

3. Expand Knowledge.

Don’t just pick members of your tribe because you know you already get along or have things in common. Choose tribe members based on how much you don’t know about them or what they do. Create bridges across departments and generations to foster a culture of creativity within the workplace.

The backfeed+ app includes more helpful questions to ask within a tribe and can guide a new team through the process. But don’t be afraid to ask the dumb questions, and certainly don’t stay silent until you think you have a smart question. Your tribe is there to support you, but you can’t get any support if you aren’t open to asking and listening to any kind of question.

We have given you three tips in this article that are proven to improve workplace communication. But you may not have the right tools in place to execute the tribe mentality. Try the Backfeed+ app with your team today, and experience how easy it is to build a tribe and foster a culture of communication. Go beyond watercooler talk and out-dated 360 employee reviews. Start with the Backfeed+ app.


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