Pros and cons of networking in organisations: where is the balance?

Everyone talks about networking; you get invitations galore to be on some new website, then spend more time juggling from one to the other than really getting interested in what comes through, whether these are professional or personal driven. Has the world gone topsy-turvy with all this rigmarole? No, will tell you those that keep their eyes stuck to their I-Phone, Blackberry or equivalent; yes, will answer those who relish on glorious sights in beautiful countryside. But what can be pros and cons for a company: from top to bottom.

Starting with top management, it may find the use of networking an impediment because of time spent by employees; one of my clients just said that he now imposes « no PC nor I-Phone, BBY, etc. » during staff meetings and he has found out how difficult it is to do! Yet, I also know that CEO’s finds networking to raise productivity as people develop transversal work solutions. On top of all, the company brand has to be monitored and buzz can be created to enhance the image, virus marketing can be extremely effective, etc. More pros, then!

Intermediate management uses networking to create cohesion and cooperation but, recently, it has found that it also raises innovation and creativity through idea sharing, from rooting to branching out. On the other side, there are uses that can be perceived as an impediment: employees have an effective « counter-power » tool to put across management, an opportunity to discuss issues without meeting in crowds, also reinforcing trade unions and negotiating power. So IT will raise security issues to slow growth or even close streams (Google/China?)

Employees are the greatest beneficiaries as we all know the opening it has created for people to connect, chat and meet, even virtually; social cohesiveness has been enhanced as this new means of expression has emerged, helping each of them to open up and feel included. Yet, this means that time management has become a complex issue; if we saw, just above, top management’s acute reaction in meetings, it is well-known that people use IT tools too much at the office even though everyone has to recognise its « professional need at the base. »

More productivity through sharing and cohesion, no doubt, for everyone, thus more cash in the till for top management; yet, at the opposite, less productivity as too much use of IT tools can become hazardous to time management. Where is the right balance? Networking participates with the desire of management to fight against individualism and develop team spirit, thus a simple team building approach… as long as it is properly managed internally. No need to resist, there is nothing one can do against the spread of technology.

Giving access shows the desire of management to be pro-active; then, training people in a couple targeted sessions can save hours of muddling through for the employee as well as giving management an opportunity to orient usage properly. This therefore means modifying company values at the base around more human contact, enhancing a code of conduct that will improve respect for the other but controlling improvements like productivity through KPI (Key Performance Indicators) that need not be just quantitative but also qualitative.

Networking is belonging, a value that I heard so many times in what top management wants to instil; and, belonging, in and of itself, is sharing company values altogether. Networking is a great tool for management to enhance participation, another value that companies love to put forward in our day and age. Finally, networking is branding You get the return from a good employee that is well-known on the web! Just have to be consistent all the way around, or else, it can be the pitfall! for the company as well as employees, so what?

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