By Nomali Sibeko

We achieve our work objectives through a blend of formal and informal networks in the organisation. Natural interaction allows for informal networks and structures to flourish, strive and flow on their own, making goal achievement easier.  The informal organisation fills the gaps in the formal organisation by creating and facilitating points of connection and relationships.

Perceptions created in the informal organisation flow through the informal communication network – the Grapevine – an inevitable part of business. The Grapevine could however also compromise your career and reputation if not managed properly.

Rick Brandon, and Marty Seldman (2004) in their book Survival of the Savvy, highlighted that it is imperative for career success to know the corporate buzz (perceptions) about you. They wrote that it is crucial to recognise your corporate reputation and the role that perception plays in organisational decisions, resource allocation and credibility. These perceptions have the potential to lead impressions, feed how people react to your ideas and how they may block your influence and power. They further reiterate that it would therefore be prudent to manage emerging perceptions, to know how to evaluate perceptions that surround you and your reputation, thus forming a basis for being best able to deal with the effects thereof.

Rick Brandon, and Marty Seldman recommended the following savvy skills and tactics to know your corporate buzz:

  • Ask others – tap into the network and get indications on how others perceive you.
  • Listen – keep your ear on the ground and listen to what people are saying about you. You can also pick up on perceptions through casual conversations and friendly but revealing jokes.
  • Self-awareness – Obtain information on areas that may indicate weaknesses including feedback from assessments, mentors, coaches and workshops. Check on the assignments you find tough in order unpack difficult readings as they will reveal a gap in the way people see you.
  • Observe the treatment you receive – observe and analyse how you are treated and how you are informed on performance and inequities. Know the  exact buzz traits as this might indicate gap  in how you are  treated
  • Stereotypes – Make educated guesses about labels that might circulate about you based on generalisations stemming from your functional area, gender, ethnicity or status amongst others.

In essence, knowing your corporate buzz is considered a courageous attempt at self-knowledge and introspection. It provides an avenue to discover how you are perceived and presents opportunities on how to shape and reshape your reputation – thus managing the perceptions about you to your benefit.

The Talent Hub International has partnered with Brandon Partners to present their workshops on Organisational Savvy in South Africa, covering amongst other important aspects of Organisational Savvy, tools on how to manage your corporate buzz. If you are interested in getting more information, please contact me at

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