Research

Too many friends can damage work success

27 Sep 2017 By Hayley Kirton

Friendship brokers may not be gaining colleagues' trust, a new study has found

Workers juggling lots of friendship groups might secretly praise themselves for their diplomacy, but research has revealed that this might be hindering their career success.

The UCL School of Management and Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, examined more than 1,000 friendship pairs at a critical-care unit of a hospital and on a two-year business school master’s degree programme.

It found the best ‘friendship brokers’ – people who could move with ease between different office cliques – were those who were slow to voice their opinion and were most adept at presenting themselves to different types of people.

“But this diplomatic personality style – somewhat reserved, but able to present different faces to different people – is not likely to preserve trust if the individual is playing a role in just a single clique rather than dancing between the demands of different cliques,” says Martin Kilduff from the UCL School of Management.

“Indeed, the personality style best adapted to the situation of interacting at work within a single group of friends is quite different: a talkative, true-to-one’s-self forthrightness is likely to maintain trust.

“Friendship brokers who flexibly and guardedly manage their individuality facilitate interconnection across cliques but, for those people whose friends are all within a single clique, it is self-revelation and authenticity that is expected.”

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