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No matter the size of your company, people will always find a way to distance themselves from one another and form cliques; or in this case--fiefdoms. Some may say that they don’t like the people in the front of the office because they play their music too loud or they some may feel that people in the back of the office receive better treatment from the boss because they are located closer to his office. In essence, these people are separating themselves and creating fiefdoms.

Derek Irvine, vice president at Globoforce, a provider of employee recognition and reward programs, says these “fiefdoms”—groups that exist not for a valid business reason, but to support their leader—destroy companies. “Little Napoleons” run things, without concern for the larger goals of the company.

Believe it or not, recognition programs can create fiefdoms. If you let your employees decide their own recognition program, fiefdoms will pop up very quickly. Irvine states, “If a company decides to pursue one culture of appreciation through a single, universal (or global) strategic recognition program for all employees, then executives must step up and clearly, firmly inform divisional leaders (especially fiefdom lords) that local recognition programs will no longer be funded or encouraged. The expectation is for all units to join into a One Company culture and engage with each other through the single recognition solution.”

Fiefdoms will always erode any company culture. If people are to work together effectively as a team, they must accept these differences. They don’t have to like everyone at work, but need to respect and contribute to one driving company culture.

How do you recognize your employees? Do you feel there are fiefdoms in your workplace? 

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