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Talking Points

September 17, 2000|LISA GIRION

Schmooze or Lose

"Social chameleons"--people who developed strategic relationships with co-workers--got the best performance reviews in a survey of 102 employees and supervisors at a West Coast high-tech firm.

These schmoozers "benefit by getting information that isn't necessarily shared in one part of the network to another part of the network," said Ajay Mehra, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati's College of Business Administration, who led the study.

Mehra acknowledged that not everybody has the personality to schmooze. Those who do, however, stand a better chance of succeeding in companies without elaborate hierarchies--if they do it right.

"It's not simply a matter of befriending everyone in the company," Mehra said. "It's a matter of taking what little time and energy you have and investing wisely in the company so that you don't get redundant information from people."

For example, "You shouldn't build lots and lots of ties in finance," he said. "It makes sense to look for friends in different parts of the company."

On-Site Laundry

There appears to be no letup in the rush by employers to offer on-site perks. More than half the 1,020 employers surveyed by Hewitt Associates, an Illinois-based management consulting firm, reported providing an on-site convenience or personal service, such as automated teller machines (34%), travel services (18%), dry cleaning (15%) or discount purchases (12%).

The percentage of companies offering flexible hours rose to 74%, compared with 66% in 1994, according to the survey. Hewitt also found 90% of employers surveyed offer some type of child-care benefit and 47% reported offering help with elder care.

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