So the vice-presidential ape called up the middle-manager ape and said, “It’s been a while since we’ve hit the hunting grounds, why don’t you put something together and get it to me for review?” To which the middle-manager ape said – well, the middle manager ape didn’t say anything because apes don’t have verbal language abilities like humans. But even without a verbal language, apes do manage to organize their groups to perform a vast spectrum of tasks. To scientists this means that a lot of organizational communication is done non-verbally. Now social scientists are hoping to change the way business is done by using digital age tools to analyze and change corporate behavior.
Scientists at the MIT Media Lab designed a Sociometer or digital badge that was attached to business executives to measure their tone of voice, closeness to other people and energy level among others. Data from the sensors in the badges led to the conclusion that executives of a certain social style were more charismatic than others and that the more of these charismatic members on a team, the more likely the team was to be successful at its sales pitch. Applying this framework to telemarketers, the scientists discovered that successful operators spoke less, listened more and had more variation in their tone of voice. They were more inviting and less pushy.
In a salary package negotiation, using social style cues from the sensors, it was possible to predict who would win the negation with 87 percent accuracy. Successful middle managers are more empathetic, while successful vice-presidents are more confident and in control of the conversation. Cisco, Xerox and Intel are among the companies testing the Sociometer approach to everything from creating effective sales teams to hiring the correct people and measuring workplace burnout. Chief researcher, Alex Pentland, author of the book, “Honest Signals,” became a believer when one of his teams, filled with the smartest people, failed miserably on a project.
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