Spare me from socialising

2007

I've never been the world's most social person but I've just joined a new company in a line manager role where social networking seems almost as important as the job itself. I feel really uncomfortable in this environment.

Golf has never interested, so that already puts me at a handicap [aargh!, ED], while hanging out at the local pub for a pint just isn't my idea of fun either. I'd much rather get back to the wife and kids and it's a long drive home. However, I guess that I'm going to need some level of social involvement and to play the game or I won't be seen a team player. Any advice appreciated.

Adam, Reading, UK

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Rob Yeung's Answer:

In an ideal world, socialising would be an optional activity dependent purely on how much you enjoy spending time with your colleagues. But unfortunately that's not the way of the world.

You say yourself that social networking seems like an important part of the job and success in many organisations often comes down to social relationships.

If your colleagues are socialising, they are building bridges and getting to know each other personally. And knowing someone personally is only a short step away from promoting them or entrusting them with that glamorous project in the overseas office.

Think about it: if you had to choose between two people who were more or less equally qualified for a job but one of them was your best friend, who would you promote?

You say that golf has never interested you but I wonder whether that is just an off-hand comment or whether golf is genuinely a major form of socialising within your organisation.

Even if you don't drink alcohol, at least join your colleagues for a drink occasionally to cement those relationships. Otherwise you'll find your colleagues talking behind your back about how distant you are or how they wish you'd be more of a team player.

I know, I know Ė it's not fair. But that's simply how many organisational cultures work in practice. Broadly speaking, you have two choices. Either bite the bullet and set aside some time for social networking and see it as a critical part of your job Ė perhaps even more critical than some of the tasks and duties that may be in your job description Ė or quit and find an organisation with a culture that is more in keeping with your own preferences.

Of course there is a third option. Which is to stay in the organisation and refuse to play the social/political game. But it sounds as if that could be as much of a fatal blow to your career prospects as making a pass at the boss's wife (or husband). Whatever you do, I wish you the best of luck.

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About our Expert

Rob Yeung
Rob Yeung

Dr Rob Yeung is a Director and executive coach at leadership consulting firm Talentspace. He is the author of over a dozen career and management books including How to Win and I is for Influence.