Sometimes when you’ve had a major success at work, you’re pretty sure the whole place would collapse without you. Other times, under pressure, you feel like it’s all up to you and you’re not sure you can pull it off. These are both times when it can be useful to remember that you’re not alone.
That may or may not be comforting at first glance, depending on the nature of your organization and its inhabitants. Certainly there could be no more random assemblage of humans than those chosen simply for their skills and thrown into the same boat with instructions to row in the same direction. But in fact you are inextricably part of a network through which information and influence flow, with the potential to support your efforts.
Organizational network analysis is a relatively new field that attempts to identify the networks beneath the organizational chart, where the real power to accomplish the goals resides. By tracking communication patterns, ONA experts can identify the “go-to” persons, those who always seem to be able to either get you what you need or direct you to someone who can. You sit somewhere in this web, and if you think about it, you probably know who your best resources are. You can consciously work to connect more effectively with the people who can provide the support you need to get your work done.
It’s when you believe that you alone are responsible for your success or failure that you are most vulnerable, whether you’re winning or losing. For starters, you aren’t alone, even if you wish you were. In spite of the American love for heroes, the idea that you can do it by yourself is a myth and a delusion. Most of us are dependent on others to accomplish our work, and need to understand that part of the job is to learn to identify and leverage those who are valuable resources, and manage those who are not.
Once you develop an awareness that you are part of a whole, you can develop skills to maneuver inside your network and improve your position within it. You will increase your knowledge of how to make things happen and have a more accurate picture of the way things really work in your organization. You can share both your hits and your misses with your colleagues, and have more fun. And you can spend a lot less time feeling alone.