Using Hidden Networks to Identify and Develop High Potentials
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Using Hidden Networks to Identify and Develop High Potentials



~~Slides from May 17, 2012 presentation at the North East HR Association conference~~ ...

~~Slides from May 17, 2012 presentation at the North East HR Association conference~~

How often have you realized, only after an employee has left the company, how critical he or she actually was to the business? Have you ever found your company in dire straits because key positions have been empty for too long? Or have you hired a promising new executive only to see that person fail after just a short time on the job?

If so, you’re not alone. Sixty-four percent of new executives hired from the outside fail at their jobs, according to HR Review. And companies regularly fail to recognize the value of individuals or roles until they’re gone.

Succession planning helps improve the situation. But the data most companies use to make decisions about development and succession is incomplete.

The missing piece is the organization’s networks. Networks show the hidden relationships within organizations and identify deeply trusted employees, subject matter experts, innovation leaders, effective implementers, and problem solvers. They show who is deeply trusted, who people go to for leadership, and who might shine on their performance reviews but can’t work well with others.

Knowledge of the information embedded in networks can help leaders identify high potentials more effectively, make better decisions about succession, and craft more accurate and effective development plans.




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  • MESSAGE: Networks are the trusted webs of relationships that people form in every organization in order to get things done.
  • MESSAGE: Networks are the goal. Social networks are tools used to build and connect with networks.
  • MESSAGE: Organization charts are important, but don’t tell the whole story.
  • MESSAGE: Networks can show you the people who keep the company running.
  • MESSAGE: Networks aren’t just about the grapevine.
  • MESSAGE: Networks are an important consideration in succession planning
  • The social network looks very different. Overwhelmed by work, Diane has little opportunity to socialize.Joe has a strong relationship with the CEO.
  • MESSAGE: Networks can help generate more accurate assessments of human capital
  • MESSAGE: We don’t always know who our high performers are despite our best efforts.One company’s leadership team identified the 30 individuals they thought would be highly connected. Then, after a network analysis, they matched their list to the results. Only five people from the initial list were actual critical connectors. It turned out that the other 25 on the initial list were only one or two steps away from the leaders: direct contacts or contacts of direct contacts. But, since the leaders' personal networks were limited (as everyone’s are), they couldn’t see the connectors outside their personal networks. It was a wake-up call. The leadership team rethought their talent development strategies and created special plans to leverage the actual key connectors.
  • MESSAGE: Not knowing people in the network can cost millions.In one such example, a software company let go of a low-level administrator citing the need to reduce overhead in the organization. Little did they know that this woman was single-handedly responsible for securing millions of dollars each year by nagging companies until they finally sent in sponsorship checks for the annual trade conference. Once she left, the leaders realized their error, but the damage was already done. Her expertise about the sponsors, and how best to influence them, left with her.
  • MESSAGE: The key to managing networks is understanding critical connectors
  • MESSAGE: Networks can help with human capital development.
  • MESSAGE: High performers do specific things with their networks. Build high-quality relationshipsManage the Center: Minimize bottlenecks and acknowledge / develop high performers. Position selves at key network points and leverage people around them.Leverage the Periphery: Rapidly integrate newcomers and reengage under-connected high performersSelectively Bridge Silos: Reach across important differences such as geography, function, etc.Develop Awareness of Expertise: Invest in relationships to extend expertise, balance biases, and prevent career traps.Minimize Insularity: Cultivate select ties with internal & external experts and stakeholders.
  • MESSAGE: It pays to help people develop high performer networks.Burt & Ronchi “Teaching Executives to See Social Capital” in Social Science ResearchExecutives active in a network learning course were over 2 times more likely to far exceed expectations on performance reviews than the control group Active executives were 3 times more likely to be promoted to a higher rank than the control group Active executives were less likely to leave the company
  • MESSAGE: Analysis helps you find the riches in your network.This is where many organizations thrive. We’ve covered some of the things to look for in the network: single points of failure, weak links, hubs, gatekeepers, pulsetakers, structural over-dependency, missing links, unaligned links, too many links, and orphans. Analysis helps Leaders identify and correct these risks. This is also the time to build redundancy into the system, mitigate potential risks, and act on opportunities.In this case study…
  • MESSAGE: Thank you!!!

Using Hidden Networks to Identify and Develop High Potentials Using Hidden Networks to Identify and Develop High Potentials Presentation Transcript

  • Stacking the Deck:Using Hidden Networks to Identify and Develop High Potentials Presented By: Maya Townsend & Keli Trejo Partnering Resources
  • The Point HR leaders can achieve more trustworthy, complete, and nuanced information about high potentials by using the organization’s hidden networks.2
  • Learning Objectives • Why and how employees develop networks of relationships to help get work done • The types of networks that typically form in organizations and the 3 critical roles in networks • How the 3 critical roles can help HR professionals identify and develop more effective and accurate succession and development programs • Case studies of how companies have used network analysis to develop the workforce • Plans for applying network knowledge to current and upcoming human capital development and succession planning efforts3
  • About Us We help organizations address complex collaboration and change challenges Maya Townsend, Founder & Lead Consultant • Specializes in using network knowledge to help organizations with large scale change • Rich experience in organization change, collaboration, and talent assessment • Author: Chief Learning Officer, Talent Management, CIO.Com, Mass High Tech, et al. • Presenter: NEHRA, PMI, Gartner, et al. • Chocolate fanatic Keli Trejo, Lead Consultant • 20+ years HR experience, including OD, Executive Coaching, Business Partner, HR Leadership roles • Significant change management roles through multi-year HR transformations • Deep experience with leadership development and succession management • Strong, collaborative client and HR partner relationships • Artist4
  • What is a Network? Networks are the webs of trusted relationships that people forge in order to perform work: Routine Work  Socializing  Sharing Expertise  Innovating  Improving  Making Ad Hoc Decisions  Mentoring 7Image: NetForm International. Used with permission.
  • Networks versus Social Networks Social network tools help us develop and maintain networks But the goal is the network8
  • Companies like Org Charts… Jane is at the individual contributor level on the org chart10
  • But There’s More to the Story Jane11
  • It’s Not Just the Grapevine12
  • It’s Way More Improvement Decision-Making Expertise Innovation13
  • The R&D Organization Jerry, CEO of the R&D Jerry organization, is ready to retire. Here’s the top three levels of his organization (lower levels hidden for simplicity). 15Case: Netform, Inc. Used with permission.
  • The R&D Work Network To help him decide on a successor, he asks for a network analysis. This map Jerry shows how people connect in order to get routine work done. Diane is a key player The thicker lines are stronger in the work network; connections. she has 9 connections Diane 16Case: © 2007 Netform, Inc. Used with permission.
  • The R&D Social Network This map shows how people connect socially. Jerry Joe and the CEO have a strong social relationship Diane has only four connections, none of which are with the CEO Joe Diane 17Case: Netform, Inc. Used with permission.
  • Your Turn Howdy, neighbor! Who should Jerry appoint as his successor? Why? Who do you think Jerry did appoint as his successor? Why?18
  • The Recommendation Joe would not be a good candidate for succession since he is not well integrated into the work network and is overly dependent on the CEO. Based on his strong personal trust for Joe, the CEO chose Joe as his successor.19
  • The Promotion Joe became the new CEO Joe Diane, frustrated at being passed over, left the company. Diane 20Case: Netform, Inc. Used with permission.
  • The Defection Without Diane, the organization fractured and Joe became deeply disconnected After 6 disastrous months, Joe was fired. 21Case: Netform, Inc. Used with permission.
  • The Aftermath Stan stepped in as the new CEO 22Case: Netform, Inc. Used with permission.
  • Quick Case: Who’s the High Performer? Here’s who the Here are the actual executives top 30 influencers thought were as shown by the the top 30 network analysis. influencers in a Only 5 people show Fortune 500 up on both lists. global information company. Why the gap? The initial top 30 list represents only the executives’ direct contacts and the next level down. They had no insight into the rest of the organization.24
  • Quick Case: Critical Connector Lost • Technology organization • $75M operating budget • Annual trade show was a major revenue generation vehicle • The company let go of a low- level administrator citing the need to reduce overhead. • They realized afterwards that she was single- handedly responsible for securing millions of dollars each year for the trade show.25
  • Quick Case: Critical Connectors Saved • Situation: Merger of two container plants required decisions about staff retention and outsourcing • Results: Leaders identified and retained people previously on the layoff list: ► Two employees who provided a steady source of innovation that were previously slated for retirement ► The group of employees that were responsible for helping a star achieve 26From Stephenson (2008): “Building a Culture of Trust” and Stephenson (2005): “Trafficking in Trust.”
  • The Critical Connectors • Identified by Dr. Karen Stephenson • Exist in all networks • Critical Connectors comprise only 5% of the network and are disproportionately responsible for it’s success • Three Critical Connectors 27Image: © 2005 NetForm, Inc. Used with permission.
  • What HR Gets from a Network Analysis A Nuanced “Go To” List for Talent HR can use these lists for… Creating mentoring pairs  Seeding mission-critical teams  Finding succession candidates  Accelerating change initiatives28
  • Development & Networks • Critical connectors have specific attributes that help them develop others more successfully ► We can use critical connectors to help accelerate on- boarding, leader integration, team development, and so on • High performers use networks in specific ways that help them be successful ► The top 20% of employees are more likely to build and maintain personal networksAdapted from Cross, Thomas, & Light, How Top Talent Uses Networks and Where Rising Stars Get Trapped and The Organizational Network 30Fieldbook, by Cross, Singer, Colella, Thomas, & Silverstone.
  • Network Practices of High Performers Leveraging the Developing Awareness of Periphery Expertise • Learning how to access • Integrating newcomers rapidly information, expertise, resources, an • Ensuring access d decision approval • Ensuring others know how to access information, etc. Managing the Center • Preventing overload • Freeing up SMEs and high potentials to help others Minimizing Insularity • Building relationships outside Bridging Silos my expertise, position, function • Brokering connections • Collaborating • Ensuring collaboration 313131Adapted from “Improving Leadership Effectiveness Through Personal Network Analysis and Development,” by Cross in The Organizational Network Fieldbook.
  • Your Turn: Mini Network Assessment • Which practices do leaders use most effectively in your organization? Please share success stories! • Which practices do leaders need to improve? Why?32
  • Network Knowledge & High Performance 41% • 36 - 42% more 34% likely to exceed 30% expectations 24% • 43 – 72% more likely to be 15% promoted 11% 12% 11% 5% • 42 – 74% more likely to stay with "Far Exceeds" Promoted to Higher Left Company Expectations Rank the company BLP Graduates Control Group Others in Top 5 Job Ranks 33From Burt & Ronchi, “Teaching Executives to See Social Capital: Results from a Field Experiment.”
  • What You Can Do 1. Map your networks 2. Analyze the data 3. Engage, grow, and leverage critical connectors 4. Evolve the networks35
  • Stacking the DeckUsing Hidden Networks to Identify and Develop HighPerformersMaya Townsend & Keli TrejoWeb: partneringresources.comBlog: mayapareEmail: / keli@partneringresources.comPhone: 617.395.8396 / 508.212.2268