Getting Connected

New on the job? Get “In The Loop” at Your Organization

It is often said that it isn’t what you know, but who you know, that matters in business. Whether you are trying to get a promotion, find your next hire, or find your next job, other people matter. Your network can have a large impact on the information and opportunities that come your way.

But what if you are new on the job? What should you be doing to ensure you have access to the people and information you need to be successful? Here are a few things you can do to get “in the loop.”

Develop trust

Being trustworthy results in higher quality work relationships and has been associated with better job performance (Colquitt, Scott & LePine, 2007). Research has shown that for others to trust you in an organizational context they must consider you competent, principled, and as having others’ interests at heart (Mayer, Davis, & Schoorman, 1995). Keep these things in mind as you consider how others in the organization see you. Are you knowledgeable and capable in your role? Do you have a set of values or principles that you act in accordance with? Are you a team player, or do you only look out for number one? Consider how your coworkers would answer these questions to gain insight into what you are currently doing that supports, or inhibits the trust between you and those around you.

Cultivate strong relationships and a tight-knit network

Research has shown that having a tight-knit network is associated with better job performance and clarity about your job (Morrison, 2002). This is because getting the information you need to be successful requires that you have someone to turn to when you need help or have questions. Having a tight-knit network provides just this type of information. A close group of coworkers can provide support and help you get the information you need to be effective. By developing these relationships, you can avoid becoming an island without a coworker to turn to when you encounter a challenge. Developing trust is obviously a great place to start in growing your close relationships at work, but there are other things you can do as well. Consider inviting two coworkers who might not know each other well to lunch, or simply make an introduction. The more interconnected your network is, the stronger it will become.

Network “up”

Having connections higher-up in the chain of command can also be beneficial for job performance and job clarity (Morrison, 2002). People higher in the organization often have more experience and a better view of the big picture. They can help you navigate the informal culture of the organization and help you gain access to diverse opportunities. A great way to develop connections at higher levels is to find a mentor who you like and who is in a role that you aspire to be in. Traditionally mentors are one level above the mentee, but there’s no reason you can’t have a mentor who is two or more levels above you. You may even want to consider having multiple mentors. Asking if someone will mentor you might sound like a daunting proposition, but be brave. Not only will it help you learn the ropes, but receiving mentoring has also been associated with higher compensation and more promotions in the long run (Dreher & Ash, 1990).

Being the newbie can be difficult at first, but by developing trust, cultivating a strong network, and networking “up” you can gain access to the information, resources, and opportunities you need to be successful in your new role. Integrate these three practices into your work relationships and you will be well on your way to getting “in the loop”.

References

Colquitt, J. A., Scott, B. A., & LePine, J. A. (2007). Trust, trustworthiness, and trust propensity: A meta-analytic test of their unique relationships with risk taking and job performance. The Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(4), 909–927.

Dreher, G. F., & Ash, R. A. (1990). A comparative study of mentoring among men and women in managerial, professional, and technical positions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75(5), 539–546.

Mayer, R. C., Davis, J. H., & Schoorman, F. D. (1995). An integrative model of organizational trust. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 709–734.

Morrison, E. W. (2002). Newscomer’s relationships: The role of social network ties during socialization. Academy of Management Journal, 45(6), 1149–1960.