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Informal relationships—those that are outside of a formal hierarchical structure—can be highly influential in determining how work gets done and therefore how value is created in an organization. To harness the power of informal relationships, they should first be analyzed and then leveraged in appropriate ways to enable flexibility and responsiveness to a changing environment.
Before a network can be analyzed, boundaries delineating who is part of the network must be established. When the organization is interested in facilitating relationships within the organization, identifying network members is relatively easy since all members of the organization can be considered members of the network. An employee directory from HR data can be used to develop a list of all individuals in the organization at a particular point in time. Often, the entire organization is included as part of the network so that linkages across business units and/or functions can be identified and analyzed. In other cases, specific business units or functions are selected to focus the analysis on a specific part of the organization.