Don’t be afraid of Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) – it could be the key to a happier workplace!

What are the most valuable relationships in your company? Do you know?

And if you do, how could you use that information to improve your workplace? If your employees feel like they have meaningful and trustworthy relationships with one another, they’re more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, which leads to higher productivity.

On the other hand, workplaces where employees don’t trust each other or feel like they have no one to turn to can lead to high turnover rates and serious morale problems. You also won’t know when employees are at risk of regrettable attrition, or who your influencers are to help with change management.

What is Organizational Network Analysis (ONA)?

Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) is a strategy for mapping relationships in an organization, showing how employees are connected to one another and who your influencers are. Rob Cross, one of the leaders in the ONA space, has found that 3-5% of people in a typical network account for 20-35% of the value-adding collaborations, meaning that a small group of employees can have an outsized impact on your organization.

It also helps managers identify how different groups interact with one another, which can help them make decisions about things like reorganizing teams or redesigning processes. Ultimately, the process of ONA will help create an environment where employees are happy and productive.

Benefits of ONA

Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) is a tool that helps you identify and map out your organization’s social networks. It provides valuable information on how power, knowledge, and influence are distributed across your company. When done right, ONA can help you make better decisions about who should get promoted or what roles should change, who your bottlenecks and enablers are, and can help you with change management (especially Open Source Change Management).

What’s it look like in action?

Organizational Network Analysis, or ONA, is an approach that helps managers understand how employees are connected with one another. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this; many companies use surveys to build the ONA graph. Performica ties directly into your communication and collaboration metadata (think calendar, email, Slack, Teams, Jira, etc.), and along with a few short, targeted surveys, automatically builds a real-time, dynamic graph of your organization.

You see immediately who your influencers are, and where the flows of information are.

Overcoming Fears and Misconceptions

Privacy is a key concern and data security and privacy are at the forefront of Performica’s ONA OrgGraph. By leveraging communication and collaboration metadata, which only shows the quantity and length of messages and meetings, Performica maintains employee privacy while showing working relationships.

Companies that use ONA are not trying to find what you said to your friend, the gossip you told your boss, or trying to predict your next vacation. Rather, they are providing context for your personal relationships and organizational communication patterns so that your peer reviews are from the people who know you best, which significantly reduces unconscious bias and can help your performance review be more favorable.

You might even see opportunities for new work-related connections and assignments that weren’t apparent before.‍

Real-Life Examples

Organizational Network Analysis is a strategic method for mapping relationships within your organization. It can help you find and root out toxic behavior, like bullying and harassment, before they escalate. In some cases, ONA can also help identify potential risks such as employees who are suddenly isolating themselves (could indicate a mental health issue) or potential burnout; it also greatly reduces unconscious bias in 360 reviews.

The idea behind ONA is that if you want to improve communication and collaboration in your company, then understanding all the work relationships at your organization (not just the ones that show up on your Org Chart) is critical.

How can I get started?

If you’re thinking about getting started with organizational network analysis and you’re still not sure where to start, here are 5 great tips for getting started:

  1. Talk to your IT department about the systems your organization is using to communicate and collaborate. While for most organizations, it will be prohibitive to try and build your own ONA model, understanding what data is coming in is the first step.
  2. Decide how to build your ONA model. This may mean using a consultant, using Performica, or even building out a team and building it yourself.
  3. Start collecting data. This is typically a mix of metadata, alongside surveys to identify bottlenecks and enablers and some other key attributes.
  4. Aggregating the data in an understandable way is the toughest part, but this is the next step. If you’re not sure how to do this, Performica can help with this piece.
  5. Decide what to do with your data. Performica customers have access to ready-to-use dashboards and specific guidance on HR best practices.

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