The power of the tribe

Every Saturday, millions of people across the United Kingdom get dressed up in the brand uniform of a business they don’t work for.

They make tortuous journeys to get to the workplace of that business.

They give up hours, sometimes days, of their time.

They put up with appalling conditions – rain, sleet, snow, overpriced beer, dodgy burgers, personal abuse – and they’re happy to do it.

In fact, they’ll even hand over a significant portion of their income for the privilege of doing it. (By ‘it’, of course, I mean watching 11 employees of that business kick a piece of leather round a grass pitch, while 11 employees wearing a rival brand’s uniform try to take it off them).

On Monday morning, those same people walk through the door of a different business. A business where they don’t have to put up with rain driving into their faces, or questionable catering facilities. A business that pays them, instead of the other way round. A business that develops their skills and offers them a pension to look after them when they’re older.

And they’re probably quite happy to work for that business.

But they all know, deep down, that if they had to choose, they’d always choose the first business.

That’s what emotional engagement really looks like.

That’s what it means to be part of a tribe.

You can’t build a tribe by sending out all-staff emails, tinkering with identity refreshes and polishing your values statement.

If you want to get close to that kind of connection with your workforce, you need to focus on building a different kind of culture.

One based on human stories and shared experiences.

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