SUCCESS IN MANUFACTURING depends on physical things: producing the best product using the best equipment with elements assembled in the most effective way. Success in the service economy depends on the human component: selecting the ideal employee and encouraging them properly. If manufacturing is akin to science, then services are more like the arts.
Encouraging people has an extra complexity. Widgets do not understand when they are being manipulated. Workers make connections with their coworkers, for social or work factors, which the management might not have prepared for.
Marissa King is teacher of organisational behaviour at the Yale School of Management, where she attempts to make sense of these networks. She tries a category in her new book, “Social Chemistry: Decoding The Components of Human Connection”.
The term “networking” has actually developed unfortunate connotations, suggesting the type of individual who flatters senior staff and overlooks colleagues who are unlikely to assist them win promotion. Ms King mentions a study which found that two-thirds of recently promoted specialists were ambivalent about, or entirely resistant to, believing strategically about their social relationships.
From the viewpoint of efficiency, the most essential networks are those formed by workers from different …
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