Throughout my time at my internship, I have seen the effects of social identity theory playing out in the workplace. While everyone is working under the same company, there is certainly fundamental cultural differences between each team. Although I am working for the Learning and Development team, I sit with members of the IT department (due to a lack of desks near my team). This separation has caused me to realize how strongly people identify with their team. For example, the L&D team is a largely female group, the IT team is all men. With this gender difference, there are fundamental differences with the leadership on each team. I have noticed other differences such as the way that the teams approach problems and the manner in which each team approaches urgent situations.
I have noticed that people strongly identify with their team. The employees at the office are very close with their other team members, constantly making dinner plans or team happy hours. However, I have noticed that there is very little interaction between teams in these social settings. Sitting with a different team during the work day has certainly caused a conflict of interest between these social identities and I have struggled to balance the two of them, especially with their contrasting characteristics.
Social identity theory in my office has proved to be successful at explaining a lot of team dynamics. It works well in the sense that there are very distinct teams that are effective in reaching their goals and solving problems. The only time this theory falters is when critical situations emerge. In times of crisis within the company, each team member seems to drop their sense of social identity in order to benefit the greater good of the company.
Physically sitting in a different part of the office than my team has made it a challenge for me to find my own identity within the office. I believe that this just goes to show how relevant these identities are on a daily basis. I am still riding the fine line between these two groups but hopefully in the weeks to come, I will be able to better find my place.