Back in the day, business models were built around being competitive. In the drive to be number one, numbers and the bottom line became everything. As a result, the environment became competitive too. We became obsessed with looking for stars and rewarded them handsomely. Now everyone wants to be that star and whatever it takes to get there is ok.
Climbing that corporate ladder was all that counted and the race was on to get to the top.
So how’s that working today? Well from our point of view, not so hot. All too often we enter environments that are dysfunctional. People, really intelligent people, that are frustrated that nobody is listening to their ideas, and maybe more telling, we meet too many people who don’t recognize the importance of what they are doing or who it affects or how it affects them or why they should even try.
This environment is built on rules and hierarchy and everyone better know their place because titles are king. The result? Too many leaders who don’t know how to communicate with their people, don’t know how to build teams that push for excellence, and maybe worst of all, think that motivation is all about money and titles and miss the mark on how to get the best out of each and every individual on their team. They are missing out on the power of Social Capital.
Social Capital is the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively. I believe it’s the missing link in why so many organizations are floundering and not getting the best out of their people. They simply have forgotten how to further and strengthen those relationships.
There are three sub categories to Social Capital:
Bonding – linking people to people with common identity such as family, close friends, and people who share our culture or ethnicity.
Bridging – linking outward to distant friends, colleagues and associates.
Linkage – linking further out to include peers, bosses, direct reports, and all those in the organization.
Bonding and Bridging are more natural and take place sometimes in spite of company rules and regs. It’s in the Linkage area where companies can separate themselves from the competition. They require attention and cultivation and they can be the difference between a company being average, good or great.
Building linkage relationships requires a little preplanning as well as a few meetings. First ask yourself what are the different factions within your organization. Is there anything the engineers can learn from the pattern makers and vice-versa? What about the salespeople and the architects? The food service employee and the maintenance people? All positions have things to teach as well as things to learn and sometimes problems just need a different perspective to be solved.
The meetings should include diverse groups and along with the information about what you are trying to accomplish should be actual getting to know each other activities. They should also include company goals and the importance of all units as well as all individuals in pursuit of those goals. It may be awkward at first, but relationship building always takes a little time, encouragement and patience. And the payoff can be huge; the breakdown of silos that inhibit organizations, a feeling of camaraderie and pride, not to mention better problem solving skills, resulting in a more cohesive workforce.
Take the next step in your organization, develop your social capital. If you need help with it, give us a call. We can show you a better way.