How Investing in Network Building can Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line: Part 5

As we approach the end of our five-part blog series based on the research conducted by Rob Cross and Rebecca Garau from the Connected Commons, it should be fairly clear at this point that personal relationships and networks at work are critical to innovation, execution and wellbeing at work. The research project that we’ve been exploring over the past four posts, however, is just one of many studies conducted by The Connected Commons. Having spent more than 20 years mapping networks and individual performance in over 300 organizations, the insights that the researchers at The Connected Commons are able to draw based on their findings across numerous projects are even more powerful than the conclusions they’re able to draw from a single study. Based on the two decades of research, the researchers at The Connected Commons have concluded that building a diverse network across location, roles, and expertise is, in fact, only the second biggest predictor of individual performance at work. Now, this isn’t to say that building a diverse network isn’t important. I mean, we’ve spent the past few posts covering exactly why having a wide and diverse network is important. The point here is that there’s a quality that high performers embody that predicts performance even more so than the diversity and strength of their networks. The number one predictor of individual performance at work, according to The Connected Commons, is being sought by others. Contemporary wisdom tells us that the best way to build our networks is by actively reaching out to others and extending our networks. The Connected Commons tells us something different: those who...

How Investing in Network Building can Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line: Part 4

“What we found in our research is that thriving at work often is as much or more about the relationships and quality of interactions with others as the type or pace of work.” Based on the research that has been reviewed in the past few posts, it’s clear that networks may be the key to successful innovation and execution in organizations. Building broad and diverse networks can help employees gain understanding, access information, create solutions, and accomplish important work. But today, we turn our attention to something that may have an even greater impact on the health and success of an organization – employees’ wellbeing. The financial impact of employees’ well being has been increasingly recognized by organizations around the world in recent years. As a result, companies are now investing more than ever before on their employees’ health. According to an analysis by IBISWorld, the workplace wellness industry has ballooned from $1 billion in 2011 to $6.8 billion five years later. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, almost a quarter of employers in the United States increased their wellness offerings last year. And guess how much employee wellbeing programs are costing American employers annually? Research by the Rand Corporation suggests that it’s $6 billion a year. Employee wellness matters – and employers know it. That’s the good news…but here’s the bad. According to new research published by the American National Bureau of Economic Research, workplace wellness programs aren’t working. This research looked at a program that offered employees biometric screening, a health assessment and various services and classes, such as chronic disease management, tai chi and...

How Investing in Network Building can Boost your Company’s Bottom Line: Part 3

                            “You can’t think, how can I do this, how can I solve it? You have to ask, Who do I know who can do this? Where is the expertise? Who else can I bring in because they have the skill or the time or the resources? Who wants the opportunity or needs the experience?” Another critical insight that Cross and Garau’s recent research project revealed is that high performers’ ability to successfully execute a project or plan directly relies on their informal networks. Often, we hold the belief that execution is all about having the right plan, strategy, and talent to put a project into motion. Surprisingly, though, the research suggests that it’s not that simple – whether a leader fully leverages his/her network can determine whether the project is successfully executed. Let me give you an example to illustrate the idea here. Picture a highly connected leader in an organization, who regularly keeps up with her connections outside of her own company, and blocks time each week for network development. In other words, this is someone who regularly grabs lunch with a number of different people in a variety of roles in different companies, and often sends industry articles or blogs that she’s read to those in her network who would find it valuable. When her company wants to expand, taking over smaller organizations or forming partnerships with others, this leader is put in charge of managing the integration. With a solid network as a foundation, and relationships that have already been established with...