Every organization has a hidden system: a web of relationships and informal networks that people use to complete day-to-day work. This system has its benefits: it helps get things done, disseminate knowledge, and incubate innovation. However, most leaders are unaware of how these networks influence productivity or workflow. By ignoring human networks, leaders miss out on an important network dynamic that can make or break talent management and change initiatives.
Within every network, 5 – 10% of nodes (in this case, individuals) represent critical connectors. These individuals have disproportionate influence over the whole. The critical connectors are:
Hubs – Highly connected individuals who communicate directly and frequently;
Gatekeepers – Individuals who manage information flow between areas or around expertise; and
Covert Brokers – Quiet, behind-the-scenes influencers who subtly lead and learn.
Organizations can accelerate change by strategically engaging the people with the most influence and agility within the network: hubs, gatekeepers, and covert brokers. Leaders can identify knowledge resources and leverage those resources to spread knowledge throughout the organization. They can mitigate knowledge loss by finding and alleviating overburdened resources, engaging hidden high performers, and protecting the micro performance networks that make it possible for stars to shine.
For more information on organizational networks, see our white paper, The Three Most Important Positions You Don’t Know About Yet, that explains:
- The importance of knowing who serves as critical connectors in your organization;
- The qualities of each role,
- How to leverage each role during change.
Do you know who your critical connectors are? Let us know in the comments below.