The frequency and pace of change in your organization, the exponential growth of your professional transparency, your lack of energy to connect with others while employed (visibility), and your lack of energy regarding your performance assessment (value), all create professional risks for you. With increased turbulence in your organization resulting in roles, responsibilities, and relationships changing with great frequency, your ability to benefit from the development of organic relationships (ones that grow naturally over time) or purposeful relationships (ones that you proactively create with a goal in mind) is being seriously eroded.
Even another reason networking while employed and performance appraisals are becoming increasingly ineffective is the explosive growth in professional transparency. As recently as seven years ago, unless the subject of your search was your favorite movie star, rock star, or politician, your ability to find details about another individual was challenging. This was not due to your faulty research skills – information about an average individual simply did not exist publicly. In fact, information about others was so absent in the not-too-distant past, the thought of seeking out personal or professional details regarding another person would not have even occurred to you.
Another reason networking and performance appraisals are becoming increasingly ineffective for employed business professionals is pace or how quickly you are expected to change. You are being asked to do more with less, and do more, faster.
Frequency refers to how often change occurs. There was a time when organizations were proud of their stability and consistency. Acquisitions were infrequent, and words like “right-sizing” and “down-sizing” were not in the dictionary. Your job description had not changed for years.
How do you know if your organization has a performance management system? I think you know, as your body is already starting to shudder. Once a year, your boss is thrust into the dreaded “performance management cycle” and required to complete numerous performance appraisals. As he rushes to complete his appraisals en masse the Sunday night before the appraisals are due, his ratings are influenced by the rankings and bell-curve pre-established by your organization. Upon the completion of an exhausting approval process, he finally schedules a meeting with you. Following the meeting, you rush back to your cubicle, call your significant other and exclaim, “I got a 3.5 on collaboration!”
History will not be kind to the performance appraisal. After decades of lackluster experiences, stale formats, and non-existent correlations between assessment and achievement, most savvy business leaders and modern management experts would tell you that the performance appraisal is a well-intended yet failed exercise in behavior modification.
While networking is the most effective strategy for individuals looking to land a new job and for self-employed business owners to generate revenue, networking is significantly less effective for employed business professionals who are seeking ways to grow within their current organization.
Networking is, and will continue to be, an important professional activity for business professionals. I previously stated that 60 – 70% of employed individuals located their most recent job opportunity through networking. In a poll I conducted on LinkedIn, these numbers were corroborated when 59% of 1,339 respondents chose the category “by networking with friends and colleagues” as the strategy that led them to their most recent job. Therefore, networking seems to be three times more effective than using an on-line job board and almost three times more effective than using a recruiter.
There is little doubt that human beings have a need for social interaction. In his landmark paper A Theory of Human Motivation (1943), Abraham Maslow concluded that, after fulfilling our psychological and safety needs, we must fulfill our interpersonal and “belongingness” needs. To paraphrase Maslow, individuals hunger for affectionate relationships with people and they will strive with great intensity to achieve this goal.
By all accounts, the world of work you are experiencing is significantly different than your parents’ world of work. The old ways of networking and measuring performance are ineffective in the face of unprecedented change and transparency.
Now is the time to differentiate yourself in your organization and industry. Now is the time to move beyond networking and start raising your visibility. Now is the time to break your dependency on performance management systems and start raising your value.