We all have that friend or family member that everybody goes to for help and for advice.  Without that person, maybe the group doesn’t get together as often, like the glue that holds it all together.

Now think about who that person is at work.  Who’s the person that a lot of people go to for help on their project or to pass their ideas by first?  Why isn’t this person you?

Help & Advice Network is the hidden power structure

Help & Advice Network – This map shows how the work actually gets done everyday.  The map shows who people go to for help, regardless of where they are in the org chart.  Large clusters indicate a person who is highly valued, and therefore has a high level of structural power.  You need to know who these people, and float your ideas past them for advice.  Better yet, you need to become one of these people.

Create a map by:

  1. Write down the names of all people who is in your work unit or project.
  2. Ask each of them, “Who is the top 3 people you ask for help & advice?”
  3. Map them all out and behold!  Try this free tool: https://kumu.io

The Friendship Network is how to really change culture

Friendship Network – This map is also called the truth network, the love network, or the trust network.  Unlike the Help & Advice network, this map shows how who people are willing to share delicate information with.  In other words, you might go to Bob because you need his expert advice on what to do, but you’ll go to Jane when you have sensitive information.  These relationships are the fabric of the organization. 

Create a map by… the only way I know of is to simply connect with people at work, and listen closely for who they spend their time with, such as who they routinely go to lunch with.  The real benefit is that you’ll get a friend out of it too.

Where You Sit Matters

I recall a long time ago in my career when a window seat became vacant, and I was next in line to have it.  I was currently sitting right next to my lead and anybody who wanted to see him, had to pass by my cube.  Given the option to move to the window or stay, I chose to stay where I sat.  To this day, I remain happy with that choice and will always go to where the real influence is at.

Law of Propinquity – tendency for people to form friendships or romantic relationships with those whom they encounter often.

In other words, the probability of communication depends on the distance between us.  It’s common sense, but we take it for granted especially with the advent of telework and relying on texting, instant messaging, emails, etc.  The fact remains – the closer we physical sit to someone, the more likely we’ll develop a relationship.  So when you get offered that corner office but far away from your teammates, think twice.

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