When Susan joined work for the first time, she entered her office quite nervous and discontented. She found herself struggling to motivate herself to go to work the next day as she was worried that she would again be the center of focus in office as those around her, would look toward her, and pass comments. It was nerve-wreaking, and Susan just couldn’t get herself motivated enough to go to the office the next day. However, as days passed, and she willed herself to go to the office, she found comfort one day, when, a colleague from the same office, walked up to her and began talking to her. She had a friend at least. The next day, she didn’t need any motivation as she looked forward to seeing Christine again. What Susan experienced is what everyone goes through, when they join for work in a new office. Susan did not have the luxury of being introduced to her colleagues on her first day at work. It did take some time before Christine walked up to talk to her. Slowly, Susan was introduced to some of Christine’s common friends, and so, Susan felt more comfortable with people known to her around her. However, this will not work in organizations where productivity is dependent on team work. Today, as industries fight intense global competition to survive, a new employee cannot be left to fend for him or her as it will affect productivity severely. Competition has not only opened avenues for opportunities but has also led to a change in work culture.
People feel comfortable when surrounded by people they know, and this principle applies universally. In an organization, for example, where a recruit attends an induction program, he, or she is introduced to others in the organization, before going through a training program to acclimatize to the culture and work ethics of that organization. This is what common identity bond is all about. Common identity bond helps employees from different cultural, religious, social and economic backgrounds, to sync together to achieve a united, and common organizational goal. Newcomb (1960), substantiating this view, found “high interpersonal attraction develop among those who have similar or common attitudes.” Several studies have confirmed the outcome of such bonds. Hogget et al (1985) and Postmes et al (2001), in Yuqing, R, Kraut, R, and Kiesler, S, (2006), Identity and Bond Theories to Understand Design Decisions for Online Communities, in their qualitative research, used similarity to manipulate interpersonal attraction by asking participants to complete a personality and friendship questionnaire. Once the questionnaire was complete, they were told that they would be assigned to a group whose members would probably become close friends. When common identity bonds are used in organizations, production and quality of work is enhanced, as it allows team members to participate in a team, in the most congenial and united way possible. Such unity would hardly be possible in an organization where team work and bonding among employees is absent. There will be hardly any weak link in the production unit, and if any weak link did exist, it would be easily be covered by others in the team who can support and enhance production by putting in a little more effort. This is a positive effect of common identity bond. However, this can also backfire and become negative.
Having a sick employee work in a team could backfire as his or her attitude to work could waiver due to his or her health, and could add to the existing pressure on other team members to complete their part of the work. In addition to this, should the sick person report to work, he or she could transmit the disease to others in the team, which could affect the whole operations of the organization, should the healthy too, fall sick, says Roe (2003). Organizational heads, use all forms of reward systems to enhance production, and so, when employees are lured by rewards from abstaining from work, even the weak and sick employees return to work. Managements need to guard themselves against encouraging such practices, as it will only damage the work environment in which employees work. Another negative point of contention about common identity bond is that, it restricts or curbs the identification of individual brillance or performance, which could affect promotions or rewards. However, organizations believe in collective response and action from their employees, and has therefore, introduced rewards and recognition programs in place that do credit individuals and groups for their work.
Newcomb, T, M, (1960), Varieties of interpersonal attraction, In D. Cartwright & A. Zander (Eds.), Group dynamics: Research and theory, p.104-119, Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson
Roe, R, (2003), "Gezondheid en prestaties" ("Health and performance"), Bohn Stafleu Van Loghum, Houten/Mechelen, 375-388
Yuqing, R, Kraut, R, and Kiesler, S, (2006), Identity and Bond Theories to Understand Design Decisions for Online Communities, Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, p.B1-B6, ISSN: 2151-6561, DOI: 10.5465/AMBPP.2006.27169064, Accessed May 15, 2014, from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.proxy.cecybrary.com