“I’m very encouraged by the new Web-based programs that I’m seeing,” said Marc Effron, president of the Talent Strategy Group. “It lowers the effort bar for managers to do the type of regular coaching and feedback that we as HR professionals always encourage.”
Work.com is one example of a Web-based program. The social platform started as a simple idea: The business world is changing, so performance management should change, said Nick Stein, director of content and media at Work.com.
“In the past, companies could get away with setting goals once a year or having performance be a very retroactive, backward-looking process,” he said. “But in a world where things are changing so quickly and companies need to be able to respond in real time to the demands of their customers and employees, we felt like we needed to make a process that was a lot more useful for the end user.”
On this social platform colleagues can set goals, give feedback and recognize accomplishments, all in one virtual setting. Projects can be tracked by managers in real time and goals easily can be altered to respond to work adjustments.
“Most people have got all this great technology outside of work that has acknowledged that we communicate differently, we collaborate differently,” Stein said, referencing the top social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. “Inside the workplace, that is an area that is still really lacking.”
When software community Mozilla started using Work.com in July, it did not have a formal performance management system in place.
“We had grown to a size where we needed a mechanism to recognize and celebrate the contributions of our community,” said Debbie Cohen, vice president and chief of people at Mozilla. “There was some skepticism around becoming corporate, yet the vast majority of employees were grateful to know there was a plan for feedback and recognition.”
In three months, 100 percent of the employees completed activation of their Work.com accounts and 98 percent have completed their self-assessments.
Even though social platforms allow companies such as Mozilla to look at ever-changing metrics, Cohen said it’s important to allow employees freedom and agility when developing a formalized performance management process. She referred to a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
“In HR we tend to over-rotate to measures that somehow equate to adding value to the organization,” Cohen said. “We over-rotate to competencies and capabilities that box people in. Those who get it right create frameworks with a great deal of freedom and agility.”
Social platforms provide an easy-to-use medium for constant check-ups on projects and goals. But employees show little improvement in their work unless these social platforms are paired with one-on-one conversations. Tracy Maylett, president of DecisionWise, a consulting firm that specializes in leadership and organizational development, has studied the effects of technology on performance reviews.
If a manager uses social platforms for performance management and simply drops off the findings on an employee’s desk, only 34 percent of employees will bother to look through the report and assess possible ways to change and improve, Maylett said. That number jumps to 94 percent when a manager takes the information gathered on the social platform, meets with the employee one on one, coaches the employee on areas of improvement and collaboratively sets new or adjusted goals going forward.
To provide employees with the best performance management system, social platforms should be used as a supplement to an established culture of regular face-to-face conversations between managers and employees.
Social platforms provide an easy-to-use medium for constant check-ups on projects and goals.