Relationships…the Best/Worst Part of Working Here

by | Mar 2, 2021

The worst part of any job is other people. Is anybody going to argue with that point? Now, they can also be the best part of any job, but at best, they are the best and worst part of any job. Are you following along?

Relationships between people are like the relationships between neurons, the unfathomably complex network of networks that enable massive systems to function flawlessly without effort. And when they go wrong, they go very wrong, and those systems shut down, leaving experts to ask the expensive question, “Why?”

Relationships are complicated at the best times, especially at work, when people are more or less forced into unconventional mandatory relationships based on external motivation and compensation and managed professionally by professional managers. Add to this palatable pallet of complexity a global pandemic, and I haven’t been in the same room with my co-workers for months. Systems break down, and it takes time to notice because they haven’t been firing at full capacity for a very long time. Communication breaks down; balls get dropped, values change, mental health and physical well-being deteriorate. 

The hardest part for leaders is that their feedback loops before 2020 were all built on analog systems. They asked people standing within distance to reach out and be present with someone. Something none of us will take for granted ever again.

In 2021 leaders have to build new feedback systems to understand their organization’s relational networks. Systems built on what we have left after all the people go home. Data.

People run our companies. Most leaders understand that simple fact at the cerebral level. However, understanding the network that those relationships form can be the key that unlocks the door to your entire organization’s operational performance potential. Using what we call Organizational Network Analysis (ONA), we analyze patterns and trends in internal communication, wholly anonymous and confidentially. From this analysis, we can assess things like the predictability of communication, employee recognition, role clarity and conflict, the quality of leadership, the amount of support offered by supervisors, the amount of support provided by colleagues and the sense of community at work. All of which have substantial social implications for your workforce and have wide-ranging consequences for your operational outcomes.

What if, instead of relying on lagging indicators of operational performance, such as revenue or gross margin, you could look to your ONA as a leading predictive indicator of your operational outcomes 3 or 4 months from now? What if by knowing how your company’s leadership was performing today, you’d know how much your gross margins would be three months from now? What if knowing how recognized your employees were feeling now meant you knew how much revenue your company would generate in June? All of a sudden, those relational factors take on a whole new meaning. All of a sudden, you have a feedback loop that can predict the future. This is the future of work, and it’s happening at Hölmetrics.