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Social Network Analysis

Originally published at ::a ::href="http://www.trainingmag.com">www.trainingmag.com::/a:: on Feb 17, 2009

Unless your company's workforce management motto is "We're behind the times," you've probably looked into using social networking as a development tool. But far fewer of you are familiar with social networking analysis (SNA), or the mapping and measuring of flows of knowledge between people, groups, organizations, or other components. According to "Tapping the Power of Social Networking to Manage Talent," a new study by Saba Software and the Human Capital Institute, more than 60 percent of organizations currently are using some form of social networking tools. Yet less than 2 percent of human resources professionals are familiar with the term "Social Network Analysis." Here's what you should know about SNA:

• Only 10 percent of organizations believe they use SNA, but approximately 22 percent of organizations actually are doing some part of a formal SNA—without realizing it.

• Users of SNA tools can be divided into two distinct groups—those who focus on analyzing social network structures and those who focus on the people within networks so as to improve overall performance and talent management.

• Despite SNA's potential across talent management (deployment, learning and development, knowledge management, leadership identification, and performance management), recruiting and onboarding are the two talent management areas where networking practices may indicate emergent use of SNA.

• The report recommends companies ask themselves two questions about SNA: What could your organization do if it more systematically replicated social networks currently in use by high performers deeper into the workforce? Could use of these networks enable you to improve your leadership succession planning by more easily tapping into networks of employees?

• Organizations larger than 500 people should conduct an initial SNA to better understand the depth and strength of their corporate network, and to determine which individuals in the organization are most important to its vitality.

• Organizations of 500 or more employees also should consider implementing a private corporate social networking tool to facilitate and strengthen socialization and networking among employees (and potentially, suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders).

• SNA practices are a critical part of many organizations’ recruiting and onboarding processes. The study’s authors expected North America to be further ahead by now in adoption of SNA, but see opportunities: "The good news is low adoption rates thus far represent opportunities for organizations to become early movers in a science that promises to greatly improve human performance at work."

Editor's Note: What's your thought on the creation, organization, monitoring, and talent management uses of corporate social networks? What's working and not working about your company's networks? Join the discussion on Training Day.