Article: Here’s how Organizational Network Analysis can keep employees connected

Culture

Here’s how Organizational Network Analysis can keep employees connected

Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) enables organizations to look beyond hierarchies and drive enhanced collaboration through informal touch points. Curious? Let’s explore how.
Here’s how Organizational Network Analysis can keep employees connected

There's no turning back from the new reality of work. The crisis has put us all in a reset mode. Trends like remote working, social distancing, and a focus on health and safety, among others are here to stay. As organizations and leaders embrace this new reality of work, what’s essential for leaders is to ensure that the company’s workforce remain connected with each other and stay committed to organizational culture and purpose. Orsolya Doricsák, Client Solution Partner, Maven7 shares, “Business processes do not need to be transformed, but re-created. Managers, management, and employees must respond immediately to changes. There is no grace period.”

But the new normal poses a myriad of challenges for organizations as they adapt to this new change. Many recent reports have highlighted the increase in anxiety and burnout, not to mention a lack of motivation and a decline in engagement. But what are the reasons behind all this threatening and worrying data? 

The impact of “work from home” on social interactions & ultimately the employee’s productivity

While allowing employees to work from home is expected to improve the work-life balance, this comfortable work model comes at a price. The opportunities to meet colleagues have been minimized and will continue to remain so as remote working and hybrid work structures continue to exist. But to ensure that Social Distancing should only mean Physical Distancing, organizations need to revisit how the employees interact and collaborate with one another.

As AndrásVicsek, the co-founder and CEO of Maven7/OrgMapper shares, “There are a lot of problems that come with working remotely. Well, for one, you don’t just bump into each other in the hallway or have a coffee and chat together.”

  • Emotions are less visible which makes building trust harder. Just think about the difference in the experience when you celebrate a birthday or a successful “closed deal” together in the office as opposed to via Zoom. People need the energy, inspiration and the feeling of belonging that come from face to face communication.
  • You also have much less opportunity for social learning, for example- when people just by observing the best practices exhibited by others, sub-consciously try to adopt these behaviors.
  • The lack of shared experiences, joint stories from the office that shape norms and the culture of the team makes it hard to give a feeling of belonging to everyone. There are much fewer off-script conversations happening: You organize your calls for a purpose. There’s no real space for small talk, free exploration and bouncing ideas off each other without a specific purpose. 
  • And besides all this, people need to change their behavior, adapt to the new health and safety rules and also to the new tools and technologies for their everyday work processes.

The informal conversations have taken a serious hit. The lack of social interaction leads to feeling of isolation, boredom, and could negatively affect productivity. If not paid timely attention, this can lead to serious impact on the business outcomes.

Relevance of Mapping Informal networks 

There is one very important factor to gauge whether organizations are successfully embracing change during the transition- their informal network. The informal network is a system within organizations that is not based on the structural hierarchy, but on human relationships and the bonds of trust. Trusted individuals are key to the organization network; they provide us with clear and useful insights that can help us to decide our priorities, identify potential challenges, and most importantly gauge the employee feelings prevailing in the network. Since these people better know the pulse at the ground level, they can also provide important inputs to successfully bring about change in practice. The “Network of Trust” is different from your organization hierarchy on paper, it is the informal network of a handful of trusted individuals who play a very special role in driving the culture of your organization. Hence, it is critical to recognize the importance of informal networks and use them in the most efficient way in the process of change.

As we discussed, how organizations have been forced to quickly adapt to the new ways of doing things, we also realize that new organizational habits and behaviors don’t come easily. In the present scenario of remote work, much more proactivity is needed from the employee’s side to initiate social interactions, but organizations also will need to make conscious efforts to coach, mentor and support their employees. Mapping informal networks is likely to play an essential role in building and sustaining the new behaviors and attitudes.

But how can we gain insight into how our informal network works? How can we identify the strategically important pain-points and needs that will help us implement change in a more empathetic and yet effective manner?

Leveraging Organizational Network Analysis to map informal networks and enhance employee collaboration

Among a plethora of techniques available in the talent tech market, one of the emerging solutions is Organizational Network Analysis (ONA). It enables organizations to look beyond hierarchies and drive enhanced collaboration through informal touch points. 

ONA is a methodology that maps both formal and informal relationships between employees. This innovative methodology gives access to measurable data and visual structures about the informal relations, the communication and the information flows. Further, it helps identify the probable blockages in the network and the silos within the organization. These insights enable leaders to build a high performing organization driven by smooth and uninterrupted knowledge and information flow in the network.

But how exactly does it work? As one of the pioneers in the ONA market, OrgMapper has developed a transparent and efficient solution for mapping informal networks that supports change management within organizations in a way never seen before. Curious? Let’s take a closer look. 

Identifying hidden influencers using ONA

OrgMapper | Influence for Change, an organizational diagnostics tool, identifies the organization’s hidden Influencers - the most influential, capable and best-connected employees in the organization. These are the people who have the most invisible threads running together. Their impact on the organization’s entire informal relationship system is amazingly strong. They are the “Go-to People”, the “Listen-to Colleagues”, the “Turn-to Experts”. The reason why these change agents have such an influence on their colleagues is not their professional strength or influence, but their human values and reliability. Employee behavior and attitudes are mostly shaped by these so-called Influencers, people who exude and bear deep self-confidence. These individuals can play a key role in successfully driving the fundamental change like remote working. Their values, attitude, and proactivity influence the behaviors and principles of those around them to adapt themselves to such a novel situation.

These change agents can accelerate project implementation by up to 15% within an organization. They can also increase employee engagement by 20-30%. Last but not least, 10-15% of communication costs can be reduced due to their involvement in promoting change. That is why it is extremely important for organizations to be aware of who their in-house Influencers are, and be able to capitalize upon those individuals’ ability to mobilize informal networks of contacts.

Communication Diagnostics using ONA

OrgMapper | Influence for Change also helps in mapping the quality of information flow across various levels/departments/business units in the organization. This ground-breaking tool gives you unparalleled insights into your company's formal and informal information flows, it helps you identify communication strengths and blockages at each location and business unit. These insights can be useful in ensuring the optimum diffusion of innovation, best practices, behaviors and knowledge in the organization. 

To summarize, OrgMapper offers innovative solutions for:

  • transparent and clear mapping of the informal network of your organization
  • identifying the key and hidden influencers throughout the organization
  • empowering Influencers and including them in every step of intervention so that they can support leaders in leading a successful change

Way forward: The future of ONA 

While there are no precompiled industry reports available in the public domain pertaining to organizational network analysis (ONA) market size, it is safe to say that under the purview of people analytics, the need for this technique is expected to increase. 

Announcing Maven7/OrgMapper's entry in India and APAC, Andras Vicsek CEO & Board Member, Maven7, said,  "India and APAC represent the most important global markets for the commercialization of OrgMapper product suite and have been keeping close to this market for the last two years.”

“As the APAC market has matured in recent years, the focus of organizations here has shifted to optimizing their structures and business processes; this ensures their growth is as quick and as efficient as possible. Here, ONA can prove to be a very useful tool,” added Anupam Prakash, MD, Maven7 India & APAC.

ONA reveals the inner workings of the organization, how people are coming together to collaborate with one another, how is the information and communication flow in the organization, are there any silos or potential blockages in the network? Answers to these questions produce very useful insights that can help organizations streamline their business models. Also, more strongly than ever, APAC is seeing organization wide culture and digital transformations. And leaders do realize that such transformations are about TALENT and not technology. “Until now, the talent issues have been looked at from the lens of individual skills and capabilities but ONA lets leaders look at the Social Capital of their organization,” shared Anupam. 

After all, Social Capital eventually decides how these individual skills and knowledge gets leveraged for business success. Social Capital is built by constant interactions, communication, relationship building between an organization's employees and Anupam feels ONA does an excellent job in measuring exactly that!

However, as ONA gains popularity many players emerge with it as a core solution and hence, OrgMapper faces a lot of competition. But Anupam believes that a team of great experts and continuous innovation will help them stay ahead of the curve. “We believe in continuous innovation and adapt ourselves quickly to the changing market needs. We thrive on integrating the latest developments in network science into various business applications. Strong backend research, supported by a world-class front end has and will continue to be one of our strongest pillars, allowing us to be the pacesetter in the field,” said Anupam. 

ONA’s methodology could become a game changer in the field of Organization Change & Development; one who recognizes its importance and uses it consistently can gain a step advantage in adapting to the “new normal”.

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Topics: Culture

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