Understanding informal relationships within an organization is the key to managerial success. As companies become less hierarchical, managers will need to know who the players are in the informal networks. There are new technologies available that can help map out three vital networks, the trust network, the advice network and the communication network. These maps represent the way people share information, who they talk to, who they go to for advice and who they rely on to keep delicate information safe. Understanding how these networks operate will allow managers to build stronger more effective teams, identify key players, and reveal holes in the network that may have gone unnoticed in the larger picture.
The first thing that most of us get on our first day on the job is the organizational chart. We all need to know who’s who in terms of leadership and who each department head is so that we can determine protocol for “following the chain of command”. This is an old system that mostly works. Yet there are always those who block information, make our jobs easier and most importantly serve as mentors and confidants. I wish that I had a tool like this early on in my corporate career. While I do believe that such a map would infringe on some privacy issues, if used appropriately it would have been so nice to skip the months and months of speculation to identify these lines of connection organically. I look forward to one day having the opportunity to test such a map in the real world.
LINK TO FULL TEXT: https://hbr.org/1993/07/informal-networks-the-company-behind-the-chart
Krackhardt, D., & Hanson, J. (1993). Informal networks: The company behind the chart. Harvard Business Review, 71(4), 104-111.