“Behind the Mic”
Bill Byham, Ph.D.
In December, Bill Byham, co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Development Dimensions International (DDI), spoke to METRO about the growing importance of Business Networking. I interviewed Bill following his talk to learn more about the origins of his focus on this topic.
Companies are complicated, networking is critical
As organizations become increasingly matrix-organized and global, Bill and his colleagues at DDI have found that being poorly networked within the organization is a frequent cause of initial failure, as people do not know to whom to turn to get questions answered. And early struggles often result in high turnover. Looking at ways to help organizations reduce turnover, DDI has created a self-report test targeting the behaviors associated with successful networkers and has developed training programs to help people accelerate their transitions into new roles.
Bill indicated that having a test to assess networking skills comes in handy in two ways: (1) it can be used as part of a selection system, recognizing that good networkers will be more successful early on, especially at more senior levels of the organization and (2) it can help people accelerate soon after they are hired, enabling organizations to target people who need coaching to enable them to network more effectively.
Successful executives have big “rolodexes”
Throughout his career, Bill has observed that successful senior leaders have robust networks, evidenced in the large rolodexes of contacts to whom they could turn. These leaders leveraged others to share advice to help them deal with novel or difficult situations.
Other trends Bill sees in the field
Bill has been involved in assessment centers for much of his career and has seen changes in how assessment centers are conducted. In the past, assessments were mainly run in-house, conducted by organizations’ own managers. Now most companies don’t have in-house assessors because the ranks of middle management have thinned. Professional assessors have taken their place, along with the proliferation of computer-based assessment techniques.
Bill also spoke about his recommendations for how to ensure 360-feedback processes result in developmental impact. These concepts are reflected in a recent book chapter Bill wrote:
- Individual employees cannot be left solely responsible for their development because they do not have the power to ensure they have access to the critical experiences, projects and job responsibilities to enhance their development.
- Manager-employee cooperation is critical in setting development goals.
- Focus development on priorities that are aligned with organizational goals so management will support development efforts when required.
Reported by: David Mahl