It seems to me as we manage people we are in fact creating a social network of sorts at work. The purpose of networking in order to better manage people should be to transmit positive, desirable and productive outcomes for the individuals as well as the organization. To a certain extent a leader must be prepared to deal with the usual transmission of bad behaviors that are common in the workplace as well. They are merely the side effects that managing people produces. We must endure them in order to reap the real benefits of genuine and authentic people management. These downside effects seem to have been grafted into the fiber of the basic employee-management relationship in most every workplace. If a leader can get past the bad behavior, stay the course and stay on the message of the Vision, Mission and Core Values that are at the heart of the organization, the negativity will dissipate and the genuine goodness of people will be forthcoming. We truly gain more than we lose by believing in the goodness of people, our employees.
Once a solid work network is established, I believe a degree of altruism is present. Thus negative behaviors and attitudes are challenged and an expectation of reciprocal behavior that is positive, satisfying and productive begins to evolve. People become happy with their work and the possibility of collaboration and teamwork results in high performance of the organization. Goodness evolves within the organization.
An example of this goodness comes from the work of Katie Carman who studied charitable giving and payroll deductions for the United Way among 75,000 employees of a large American Bank that operated in 20 states. She found that when people were transferred from a location where fellow employees didn’t give much money compared to where they worked previously, they followed suit and decreased their giving at the new place of employment. The network of people management from the leader on down was not engaged and thus the level of “giving goodness” diminished. What Carman discovered and suggests from her findings is that the people management of altruistic norms (United Way giving) can have positive or negative impact on the pay it forward properties of altruism. I postulate that the same is true when applied to job satisfaction, employer engagement and workplace productivity.
Studies have further shown that altruism tends to spread and the benefits magnify. It seems that this is supported by the network that develops. It all starts with leadership and it seems to me that the environment and attitude of goodness is a rather painless investment to make. The payoff will be worth any discomfort.
“What makes us human – for good and for bad – is our social nature.” – Dan Ariely