So often we hear so many good things about networking with people, building connections and knowing as many people as possible. In this age of connected world, social media, communication channels and multiple ways to keep in touch your success sometimes may depend on your connections. How this does helps an individual to grow or get something done faster and easier than other people? It does help and with my experience I can say that most of the people who grow fast in an organization are very well connected. But how does this helps an organization? Probably work gets done faster and they are able to find the right people quickly. Makes sense from both organization and individual perspective. Looks to be a win-win situation for everyone?
But the big question here is that, are the most connected people are also the most hardworking, smart and dedicated people? Answer is often “No”, they are not. Not saying that well connected and networked people are not dedicated or hardworking. This becomes unreasonable when smarter or more dedicated people are left behind or not considered due to lack of networking or for the fact that they do not have enough prominent people vouching for them. I this entire networking process we may be missing providing opportunities to our most dedicated people, leaving them disengaged and a feeling of dissatisfaction.
Most of the people even at a very senior level would like to work with the people they are well aware of, in this way they do not need to spend time to build relations or trust with them. Sounds good and saves a lot of time for everyone involved, but hold on this is where the trouble starts. This can quickly turn into a scenario where people start to get preference for whom they know or because of their connections. Now the less connected ones are able to see the things very clearly and make an opinion about how things work here. They would start seeing this as a bias, and they cannot be blamed for having that feeling as well. We often see that whenever a senior person moves from one position to another, few more people move along with him. This goes on, clearly indicating that the so called leader would like some of his trusted people to be working with him or her. We also know positions are specifically created to accommodate some people.
There are few things that happens in this entire networking process which are very important to understand as this may have negative impact on the performance of the employees and organization as a whole:
· When we look forward to get the networked people on board based on some recommendations, word of mouth and feedback from the senior people, are we also critically looking at their deliverables in comparison to other candidates who have no connections?
· Replying on networking is good to keep the organization connected and to get the employees engaged, but not a very good idea while assessing the talent for the key positions.
· If you rely on networking you ought to make sure they are the best people for the job in question. We also need to ensure that it is not seen as a bias by other employees.
· One of the arguments often given in favor of networking is the ability to get the work done quickly. Question leaders or managers need to ask it that why someone should do something if they know me personally or are connected to me in some way? Rather one should be doing the same work irrespective of their acquaintance, following the priority and the processes laid down by the organization.
· A lot of people consider (organizations as well) connections to be one of the ways to grow up in the organization ladder. This certainty form a kind of bias where some people may be sure of something due to their connections. A lot of times it is clearly called out in terms of creating visibility in the eyes of senior management. As an employee I am not here to create visibility but to deliver the results expected of me. If two employees have the same level of performance but one of them has larger network and have people vouching for him or her chances are that he would be the one to be offered the job.
· Organizations should work on the process and responsibilities assigned to a particular role. It does not matter who knows whom, no consideration can be given for that in terms of discharging the duties or providing the opportunities. It has to be same for irrespective of the network or the connections people may have.
So forget about the network or connections a person has. Encourage employees to build connections to have the certain level of comfort while working with each other or to create a conducive work environment only. Remember people can easily identify the game of Networking and would respond to that by being disengaged, less productive, showing negative sentiments and in many cases would leave the organization.