How to Measure Social Quotient in your Organization

Richard Brady, Marcus Gee

Does your organization struggle to pass information between teams, or to foster interdepartmental collaboration? If so, you could be contending with workplace politics, but it’s more likely that you have an issue with your organization’s social network. The index on which your position in the workplace network and your ability to access and utilize workplace relationships effectively is known as the Social Quotient (SQ).

Though Social Quotients have been driving success stories for hundreds of years, its concepts and tools to measure have developed only recently. It began when the Medici family seized new opportunities and gained power in Renaissance Florence through the deliberate and methodical cultivation and maintenance of their relationships with other families. This may even be the source of the old adage ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know.’ History aside, SQ has been shown to have a significant impact on career success and organizational outcomes.

When you understand how your organization’s network affects the interactions between individuals and groups you can start to utilize them to their full potential. You’ll need to measure Social Quotient before you can act, though. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, work is growing more complex, knowledge-driven, and matrix-executed. As such, SQ is going to be more important in the modern work environment than ever before.

Understanding Your Workplace Network

Due to the omnipresent nature of social relationships and interconnectivity, we are all embedded within a complex web of networks. This is especially true in the area of work as colleagues are interdependent with peers, supervisors, direct reports, and vendors. Most often these relationships are reciprocal, not unilateral, and each person interacts with (and benefits from) the others in their networks.

By using a measurement system called CORAL SQ®, it’s possible to learn and understand more about individuals’ positioning within the network through concrete data and a real visual portrayal of them.

Measuring the Social Quotient

The interactions and connection strength between individuals in a network can be measured. Similar to an IQ or EQ, you can obtain a score of your team members’ Social Quotient. CORAL SQ® reports break down the Social Quotient into five core areas expressed by the CORAL acronym:

  • Centrality – To be central is to be influential as compared to others within the network. This is someone who is connected to more people. They can get more information and reach out to more people quickly because they’ve worked to build solid relationships.

  • Outreach – This is a person who reaches out to others more, can gather more information, and get more social support from others. Generally, they tend to contact people more often.

  • Receptivity – The opposite of Outreach, this is how much others within the network approach the person. People higher in Receptivity tend to provide others with information, guidance, and could be seen as an expert in their area.

  • Access – This type of person can contact others (including those whom they are not directly connected with) effectively/quickly across various parts of the network. They can be very helpful when there is a need to reach out to many people urgently.

  • Linkage – A person with high Linkage is great at connecting separated people/groups. They will act like a glue amongst groups or people who otherwise may be very siloed.

The results generated for each individual are calculated relative to the others within the network and can help to explain the social dynamics of the workplace. The results could, for instance, show who carries the most influence and who would take the most knowledge with them should they leave.

Understanding these descriptions within your organization will reveal the qualities of individual members. This insight can then be used to maximize strengths, determine career paths, and mitigate risks.

Common Network Challenges

A CORAL SQ® report will indicate various ways to improve communication and interaction. These descriptors will enable you to overcome the challenges that you discover by leveraging the different qualities that each individual brings. Some of these challenges include:

  1. Coping Under Pressure
    Oftentimes, you may find someone with a high Centrality score scurrying around trying to answer every call and email that comes through. They’re highly connected so they have many people looking to them for information.

    Solution: Discovering their Social Quotient will identify the tendency for them to feel burned out and how you can help them. Leaders can then provide boundary or time management tips and help them to better manage their workload.

  2. Feelings of Exclusion
    In every social network (organizational or personal), some individuals can feel as if they are on the outskirts of the group. In a personal network, people may simply stop speaking to each other. The consequences of this happening in a business setting are more serious. Team members with low Centrality and low Access are at particular risk of exclusion. Failing to bring them in from the periphery could mean that the high cost of hiring goes to waste since there is no inherent desire to stay.

    Solution: People are often nervous when they start a new role. They may wish to fast-forward to a time in the future when they know more people and are embedded within their team. If new hires are paired with a high-SQ mentor from the start, they may find it easier to bond with their team. They can integrate much more smoothly and quickly and tend to stay with the organization longer.

  3. Siloed Teams
    Individuals with a high Linkage rating will help identify if there is a single point of contact between teams. You’ll be able to understand why processes may be much slower, innovations are halted, or bottlenecks are created.

    Solution: An individual with high Linkage should focus on establishing relationships between functions and avoid maintaining silos through bottlenecking behaviors.

Supporting Collaboration with CORAL SQ ®

You can only improve collaboration and success in a team or wider workplace by understanding the network and the position of the individuals within it. While other factors are also in play, business leaders need an awareness of their organization’s social dynamics to make the necessary interventions to overcome the types of challenges outlined in this article. This process also requires leaders to look inwards and to become more aware of their own SQ and how it impacts their organization.

It’s crucial to remember that the Social Quotient is dynamic. It does not stay the same – especially if an individual moves to a new department or organization (each a network in its own right). There will always be a need to understand who may be on the outside of a network, central to it, or somewhere in between. Since SQ is dynamic, there’s always room to improve – no matter what role an individual plays. Learn more about CORAL SQ® and how your team can be efficient, productive, and positively affect the bottom line.

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