Leveraging employee networks can optimize individual and organizational performance and unearth hidden talent. Organizations teem with informal employee networks. Awareness of these living networks, and an understanding of how collaborations take place between top performers, can be a great, effective tool for overall success. To do so, managers must understand both the structure of talent networks within their company, and the categories their employees fall into.
Finding ways to generate more value from employees and optimize talent is critical for leaders and HR professionals. Organizations could get even more from their investments in talent management if they focused on collaboration. That is why leaders need to be aware of how collaboration takes place among top performers and key experts in their organizations, and of the ways they can make informal networks more effective than the sum of individual employee contributions.
First it is important to understand how talent practices can improve collaboration in organizations. The research behind this Idea involved an online survey of talent managers, interviews with talent experts and in-depth case studies, all the while considering how companies can leverage employee networks to increase individual and organizational performance.
In the case of traditional methods, companies frequently end up not only overlooking talent but also not seeing that some of their high performers aren’t actually making collaborative contributions to the organization. There are four categories of employees:
There are several different ways managers can help improve the effectiveness of these categories of employees; for example, the effectiveness of marginalized employees can often be improved through either performance management processes or individual development plans that create an informal network connecting them to critical organizational segments. Helping poor performers see the effects that their lack of a balanced informal network can have, can be more motivating than simply urging them to collaborate with strangers or build large personal networks.
‘Network-centric talent practices’ can help influence individual and organizational performance:
Building a Well-Networked Organization. Margaret Schweer, Dimitris Assimakopoulos, Rob Cross & Robert J. Thomas. MIT Sloan Management Review (Winter 2012).
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