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Tag Archives: workplace informal networks

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Do you ever feel like you’re trapped inside a Dilbert cartoon with bosses that don’t understand you, nonsensical tasks, and no sense of purpose?

This type of workplace is ineffective and damaging to a person’s self-worth, BUT they are still commonplace. I’ve worked with many coaching clients who complain that no one really gets them at work. They feel stifled, misunderstood, or disconnected from their co-workers. It doesn’t have to be this way!
Founder of Keyhubs, Vikas Narula, talks about how to abandon the “Dilbert workplace mentality.” His focus is on individual merits and contributions, not titles or the traditional hierarchal approach. He looks at the informal networks that exist in a given workplace and urges the company to capitalize on them. Narula even developed software that measures connections between co-workers by asking them to identify the people in the workplace who influence and inspire them the most. What he’s found is that people on the “bottom tiers” are frequently important influencers and are often overlooked or under-appreciated by upper-management.

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An article about Narula on Pollen.org puts it best: “In reality, work gets done through an unseen network of personal relationships and connections. Uncover that informal network, and you see how your company actually runs.”

The article breaks Narula’s viewpoint into 4 key principles:

  1. Talent and influence transcend hierarchy.
  2. Title and status don’t necessarily grant you influence. Influence happens by building genuine connections. Having a fat title and a big salary doesn’t grant you that privilege.
  3. Proximity makes a big difference. If you’re not close to people and you don’t seek people out on a day-to-day basis, it can affect your ability to build human connection.
  4. There are different types of influence. You might have someone who has a large followership in an organization, or grassroots influence, but who isn’t perceived by the higher ups in that way. And vice versa—someone may be seen as highly influential by a higher up, even if they’re not. This gives them an associative influence.

How can you move your company from a “Dilbert mentality” to one that embraces and appreciates individuals? How can you uncover hidden talents and influencers?

Look beyond the hierarchy. Pay attention to the informal networks that exist within the workplace and identify the key influencers within those networks. Go out of your way to connect with others, no matter their status. By tapping into the organization at the grassroots level, you’ll get a better sense of the foundation on which your company is built.

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MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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