Opening Social Networks Within a Company

Teacher-pupil relationshipCreating social networks within your organization will improve communication. You’ll be encouraging a “village community” atmosphere instead of cliques (separate groups) who only visit each other when they need something.


Your company can try implementing a social friendship plan. You can do this by rotating various departments to help each other work on tasks or come up with new ideas and systems. If you want your company to foster relationships, you need to create a spider web of connections that help everyone support each other.


This is different from cross-training because you are trying to create new friendships and networks that will help get around some of the red tape as well as construct a friendlier atmosphere.


You don’t want people just hanging out like it’s a mini-party and dragging down the productivity of a department, so you’ll have to figure out the best way to encourage work. You’ll probably want to foster a Teacher-pupil relationship, having the “teacher” show the various tasks that go on throughout a day. You’ll probably be surprised by how much work gets done because the teacher wants to show the pupil how intriguing or intricate their job can be within those few hours.


Creating a Village Solution

Everyone in the company should rotate around the various departments, until everyone gets a larger idea of what the other department does throughout a day.


Small Company


If you have a small company with under ten people, then try a rotation of partnerships every Wednesday morning for an hour, until everyone has had a chance to work with each other. The best way to do this is to pick half the company to rotate to another person’s job. When their time is up then switch the rotation. It should take less than two months and only 9 hours of time. You may think that it will hurt your bottom line because it’s one less hour that they are working on their task, but you must think long-term. The health of a company depends on its relationships and if a small company can stay close-knit then you’ve helped create a team that will assist each other when they are in a bind.


Medium Size Company


If you have a medium size company, between 11 – 500 employees then try rotating between three of the closest related departments.


For instance:

  • Put sales with marketing and production

    • Sales needs to understand the message that marketing is putting out to the public. They also need to understand where the product/service comes from so they know how to explain the features and benefits.

  • Put marketing with upper management and sales

    • Marketing needs to understand the direction that management wants the products/services to go in to create their message. They also need to understand what is working and what isn’t by communicating with sales.

  • Put accounting with creative people and marketing.

    • Accounting needs to understand what the creative people have in mind, so they can explain what the budget looks like for the upcoming projects. They also need to understand the money that marketing spends and what they can do to make their money stretch farther.


By putting the departments together that have the most to learn from one another then you can create open lines of communication. You can also do this with large companies, if you feel like it would benefit the organization. People want to work together for the greater good of the company. It’s up to management to make sure that it happens.


Large Company


If you have a large sized company (greater than 501 employees) then try rotating people within their own department. A Sales department can be filled with 1000 or more people. Everything is so specialized that they might not even know what one of their co-workers is accomplishing. It will foster learning and a little competition.


By rotating a department around you can open social networks, encouraging people who want to help each other achieve success.


Your company should encourage the employees from different departments to get to know each other. It will create friendships and loyalty toward each other. What should happen is a tighter knit group, willing to support each other instead of fighting for better position. You’ll have some grumps and kill-joys in every group, but after a short period of time communication will open.


Discuss Communication Project


The most important part about trying to implement this plan is to recap the project with the employees involved. Ask them what they liked and disliked. You can use this to adjust for the next time. When they see that you are trying to create a more open and friendlier atmosphere they will be more willing to participate.


Opening social networks should also improve company retention. People stay with a company when they feel they are a part of a family atmosphere. Over time, as the program progresses, the villagers will encourage change and adapt new ideas as they learn from each other.