Every organization has an organizational chart which gives a summary of which people work on the same team or who each employee reports to within the group. While the chart defines roles in its formal sense, the chart fails to capture the importance of personal relationships both within the sub-groups and the organization as a whole. These personal relationships are critical to team building and the organization’s overall success. Co-workers interactions and comfort with each other give them access to both internal and external contacts, in turn expanding their networks.
Until September 1st, LinkedIn users will be able to create a visual representation of their network, using LinkedIn Maps, which uses a variety of colors and sized dots to highlight different groups of people that users have connected with through both their educational and professional journeys. This chart also helps visualize how close or distant different clusters of connections are from each other.
The distance of clusters illustrates the interconnections between them. Due to minimum channels for information flow, it is likely that distinct clusters may have unique solutions to mitigate problems whereas more closely bound clusters are more likely to have shared information. Individuals in a network with more connections are given a larger dot, and serve as “hubs” or central connections for both internal and external connections in the network.
Understanding the structure of a network does not only include the rigidity of an organizational chart but also the personal connection between subordinates and peers that is never captured by those charts. Personal connection can help establish and grow a network. Group members will be more comfortable sharing internal and external contacts to help grow each other’s networks. Additionally, personal connection fosters chemistry and trust within an organization, often resulting in greater organizational success. While many believe the organizational chart to be the “be all end all”, at the heart of it is the true structure of the network – personal connection.