I returned to my office on a Monday after a week on a consulting trip. A casual acquaintance dropped by. After some small talk he remarked, “I heard your team did a great job last week. Sweet.” I thought we did but how did he know? Turns out a member of my team attended the same church as my casual acquaintance. They talked on Sunday. I had no idea of their relationship.
Think about the relationships you have at work. Formal relationships are defined by the organization and are usually involuntary, for example you and your supervisor or the people with whom you are required to work. Informal groups or networks tend to be voluntary. They may or may not include people in your formal groups or networks.
Informal groups and networks in the workplace help get work done. Can you identify your informal groups in your work?
- To whom do you go when you need work-related information?
- Who comes to you for information?
- Who can you count on to help you sort out a work-related problem?
- Who do you need on your side when advancing an idea, initiative, or work-related issue?
These informal networks naturally arise out of individual strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. They exist on your first day of work but usually no one tells you about them. To identify informal groups and networks you observe, make mental notes, and learn by trial and error. Observe how informal communications flow, who listens to whom. Knowing the informal networks and groups around you can potentially increase your effectiveness and how you are perceived by others in the workplace.
Image, "Meeting", Peggy_Marco. Obtained from https://pixabay.com/illustrations/meeting-collaboration-meet-people-1015591/
This blog is modified from Decoding the Workplace. © John Ballard, PhD, 2021. All rights reserved.
Decoding the Workplace “Is this a must-have for managers and would-be managers? Yes.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, June, 2018. Available as ebook, hardback, paperback, audiobook, and audio CD. The best-selling audiobook and CD are narrated by Timothy Andrés Pabon.