Informal networks and how to use them

“Don’t waste your time with explanations: people only hear what they want to hear.”

― Paulo Coelho

In every organisation there is formal organisation chart, which show how communication should take place in organisation, it also decides the flow of work. But in reality in addition to formal chart, an informal network also exists. At times it may be even more powerful than the formal structure.

Gossips, rumours, conversations around coffee machines etc. are indicators of this informal network.

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An informal network looks like this.

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Such networks are formed spontaneously and naturally as the interactions among workers continue over time. Each individual has some role to play. Some roles are …

Gatekeeper-A gatekeeper has a strategic position in the network that allows him or her to control information moving in either direction through a channel.

Liaison-A liaison serves as a bridge between groups, tying groups together and facilitating the communication flow needed to integrate group activities.

Cosmopolite– A cosmopolite links the organization to the external environment by, for instance, attending conventions and trade shows, keeping up with outside technological innovations, and having more frequent contact with sources outside the organization. This person may also be an opinion leader in the group.

Isolates– Isolates tend to work alone and have little interaction and communication with others.

Each of these roles and functions plays an important part in the overall functioning of the communication network and in the organization as a whole.

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Understanding these roles can help both managers and group members facilitate communication. For instance, the manager who wants to be sure that the CEO receives certain information is well advised to go through the gatekeeper. If the employee who has the technical knowledge necessary for particular project knowledge necessary for a particular project is an isolate, the manager can take special steps to integrate the employee into the communication network for the duration of the project.

 

 

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