Spare me from socialising


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

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 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 perhaps even more critical than some of the tasks and duties that may be in your job description 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.


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.

Older Comments

You hate golf? Excellent! Come work for me!

Steve Florida

I think what Rob is trying to say is that you're in the wrong job - or rather, the wrong organisation.


If you would rather get home after a long day at work, how about socialising with colleagues by going out for lunch?


I'm a little thrown back by the advice here. In reading what Adam had to say a few questions came to mind. First, what gives Adam the impression that social networking is almost as important as the job itself? Is this truly the case or does it just feel that way? Can Adam perform in the top 10% without this form of networking? And if so, how? The answer to these questions would provide a position to negotiate around duties that may or may not be important. These colleagues don't know the environment that Adam needs - only Adam does. And he'll have to communicate that.

Second, is Adam's environment allowing him to play to his strengths in the best way? For example, Adam might not like golf or going to bars (maybe it's the leisurely pace of his golf buddies, maybe it's the noise of the bar, maybe neither location feels like work), but he might prefer locations where he is more efficient or comfortable. Socializing in a different environment might be far more productive for him - maybe he's better in places of his choosing. Maybe he's more of a 'let's get to it' kinda guy.

Third, Adam needs to recognize the strengths *of his colleagues*. What is it about those environments that allows their talents to work more perfectly? Look for all of their strengths - NOT to emulate them, but to recognize that there is a reason why these colleagues enjoy this type of socializing and how it helps them perform better. Everyone is a little different. When you recognize the strengths of others you open doors so that they can recognize them in you.

Finally, if nothing else, it's hard to avoid asking if Adam is 'miscast'. Maybe this is the wrong position? If family is the motivating factor and being removed from that is a requirement, how will he stay motivated in this position? It will be very difficult to sustain himself there.


So you need to socialise and is part of the game when you are taking a much sort after break of the day.

What are you going to talk about? Gossips? The Cricket? Sports? or talk the topic your boss like to hear where you got to research about it to get it well done to be inline? is that street smart or you can get away without doing much work?

Socialising during office hours reduce productivity if your work is a mundane work, or when you are the decision maker, socialising may prompt you to some new ways of doing the same things....decision making. A coin got two sides.