Back in 2010 a fascinating piece of research emerged from Kellogg Business School. It was exploring the various ways we can suck up our way to success in the workplace. It identified seven core methods used to schmooze our way to the top:
- The Flattery as Advice Schmooze: Occurs when a person poses a question seeking advice as a way to flatter the subject (i.e. “How were you able to close that deal so successfully?”).
- The False Argument Schmooze: Instead of agreeing immediately, a person will yield before accepting his/her manager’s opinion (i.e. “At first, I didn’t see your point but it makes total sense now. You’ve convinced me.”).
- The Social Schmooze: Praising manager to his/her friends or social network with hopes that word gets back to manager.
- The Bashful Schmooze: Positioning a remark as likely to be embarrassing (i.e. “I don’t want to embarrass you but your presentation was really top-notch. Better than most I’ve seen.”).
- The Conformity Schmooze: Expressing values or morals which are held by one’s manager (i.e. “I’m the same way. I believe we should increase minimum wage.”).
- The Social Conformity Schmooze: Covertly learning of manager’s opinion(s) from his/her contacts, and then conforming with opinion(s) in conversations with manager.
- The Similarity Schmooze: Mentioning an affiliation, such as a religious organization or political party, shared by both individuals. (i.e. “I watched the Republican National Convention last night. The keynote presented some great points.”).
I’m sure you’ve either experienced some of these in your own workplace, or can picture them taking place at least. Do they manifest themselves online though?
We’re seeing a huge increase in the number of companies deploying enterprise social networks within their organizations. Does schmoozing take place there too?
Well, a recent Wharton paper suggests that the answer is a definite yes. They found that the more frequently people used so called ‘social terms’ on their enterprise social network, the less likely they were to get the sack. The researchers identified such terms as ‘coffee’, ‘lunch’ and ‘baseball’, and the more they were used, the less likely someone was to get sacked. What’s more, the use of these terms was a stronger factor in an employees stickability than their performance reviews.
This is particularly surprising as the research specifically looked at the consulting industry, which of course has a very clear output from employees. It should be clear therefore how much value an employee brings to the business, yet social factors played a bigger role.
Of course, that wasn’t the only finding from the examination of ESN usage. For instance, the research also discovered that information diversity was strongly linked to corporate performance. The more diverse the information, the more revenue gets generated.
The finding on social chatter is probably the most interesting however, as hopefully the thought diversity angle is one that’s well understood by now. If you want to engage in a high degree of performance management however, then understanding the social side of your perceptions should be crucial to help avoid any biases in your decision making.
“Not only should you do your job well, but you also should worry about intangible communication or other things [that] make it more likely that you’ll be keeping your job,” the researchers conclude.