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The Social Side of Performance

What separates high-performing knowledge workers from their more-average peers? Superior ability is part of the answer, as is superior expertise. But according to the authors, what really distinguishes high performers from the rest of the pack is their ability to maintain and leverage personal networks. The most effective knowledge workers create and tap large, diversified networks that are rich in experience and span all organizational boundaries.

Contrary to the popular image of the networker, the authors say, the building and use of such networks is rarely motivated by explicit political or career-driven motives. In addition, they posit that high performers are much more than "social butterflies," who tend to have numerous relationships that don't scratch below the surface. Effective knowledge workers focus on building deeper relationships that will be mutually beneficial over time. The authors discuss the three tactics used by high performers to build and maintain their networks. Ideally, they say, organizations should use tools and readily available human-resources practices to hire people who are likely to develop large, widespread networks. Once on board, people should be encouraged through incentives to maintain their networks. Such important work -- and it is work, even if isn't usually visible -- shouldn't be left strictly to chance.

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