Bharat recently completed a diploma course from an ITI as an apprentice and has several months of experience through the summer internship jobs. He has just joined a Chemical processing plant as a full time mechanic, responsible for the maintenance section.

First day of the job, the supervisor assigns him to work with Raj Kapoor who has been working in the section for 10 years.

The two are assigned to do some repair work on a storage tank two miles north of the maintenance station. As they drove to the area in the pick-up truck, Kapoor stopped for a while near a gambling area to enquire about winnings from a lottery game played the night before. Bharat was eager to get to work on his first day, showed impatience with Kapoor talking to his friends, and got a disapproving look.

Once on the job, Bharat climbed quickly into the truck to get his tools, and Kapoor said “what’s your rush? That job’s not going to run away”.

Several times during the morning, Kapoor ridiculed Bharat for his enthusiasm. After the morning tea break, as they got up to go back to work, Kapoor again asked why he was hurrying. When he sped back to the truck to get the materials from the warehouse, Kapoor said he acted as if he was being paid double time. When they had to wait 45 minutes for an electrician to change some electrical connections, Bharat wanted to start on other work, but Kapoor told him to “hold tight and do one job at a time”.

At lunch, Kapoor ate in the canteen with three other buddies and played cards. As Bharat looked around the canteen, he noticed that everyone was eating together in small groups, so he ate alone.

The afternoon went pretty much like the morning. Kapoor worked at a fairly steady pace all day as he kidded around with the same group of friends, griped about the lack of support provided by other departments, commented on the “dumb supervisors” and played tricks on members of the gang. Bharat learned quickly that if he went along and followed Kapoor, there would be no trouble. But as soon as he tried to do it alone, he was sure to get a put down or a wisecrack from Kapoor.

 

What group processes are taking place in this case:

If Bharat conforms, why will he do so?

What risks are there in his not conforming?

Is it possible for Bharat to change the fair day’s work norm?

Is there anything the supervisor can do to capitalize on Bharat’s enthusiasm and avoid his following the groups’ established work patterns? Should he?

Summary:

It is important to understand the impact of peer pressure on a new joinee and how it can have an adverse effect on the individual and organization simultaneously.

Impact:

  • If he doesn’t conform to the behaviors prescribed by the seniors in the team, he risks getting rejected by the team.
  • At the same time if he doesn’t perform his new job properly, he is likely to get into trouble with his supervisor.
  • Tenured employees should take the ownership of creating a favorable impression of the organization, has that happened in this case?
  • Question can be raised here about the supervisor’s role in this entire scenario also. What role could the supervisor have played in making this entire experience positive?
  • Given the above circumstances, the new employee is most likely to change his own way of functioning, thereby toeing the line drawn by the seniors. This is likely to result in reduction of “best foot forward” attitude of the new employee. This change of attitude is likely to set the trend for his overall performance. This is also likely to lead to work related dissatisfaction for the new employee.

As supervisors/ managers, one fails to monitor the situation for a new employee. We get too busy getting the new employee to start performing from day one and forget the intangible aspects of the job for any new employee.

As managers, we should take it as part of our responsibility to create a positive experience for our team members, which will collectively then move the organization’s culture as an inclusive and fair work environment.

By - Shefali Bajaj (Head - Corporate National HR )

Shefali has an experience of over 18+ years. She has handled workforce ranging from 50 to 5000.
She enjoys traveling, reading fiction books, is actively involved in Nature conservation and wildlife photography