Collaboration Catalysts

People’s lives are increasingly played out in a digital world. Soon enough, the same can be said for how talent is managed.

According to the Pew Research Center, adults have an average of 338 Facebook friends, 44 percent of whom actively “like” content published by those friends at least once a day. That’s in addition to the 300 million Instagram users who share 70 million photos and videos daily.

In 2014 LinkedIn reported that roughly 25 million profiles were viewed per day on the professional networking website. About 500 million tweets are posted on Twitter each day.

Outside the workplace, people make fewer choices without considering social influence in their decision-making process. The comments and ratings included on sites like TripAdvisor, OpenTable and Yelp influence where people eat and which hotels they stay at.

What’s more, sites like Healthgrades help people choose their health care providers, Rate My Professors influences class enrollment at colleges, and Grade Gov and Congress Ratings influence how legislators govern and how people vote.

With social influence and analytics increasingly influencing people’s personal decisions, shouldn’t both have the same influence in the workplace?

The intuitive answer is yes. But as former Talent Management columnist Lisa Rowan, vice president of research at IDC, noted in her April 2015 column, this hasn’t quite happened yet. Organizations are not taking advantage of the power of social collaboration.

In some cases, organizations don’t have the right technology for a secure and meaningful collaborative dialogue. For others, early failed organizational pilots or trials have been abandoned.

This situation will inevitably change with human resources as the catalyst. HR has the opportunity to help digital talent managers lead the social, cultural, behavioral and technology changes required to harness the power of social collaboration, including transforming HR service delivery.

The following are some of the ways a new generation of digital talent managers will improve their organizations productivity, increase collaboration and drive business outcomes.

Improve HR Service Delivery

Too often viewed through the lens of impersonal transactions, social collaboration will transform and improve HR service delivery.

Feedback: Create a two-way dialogue with employees and managers by creating an online collaborative forum to post comments, ask questions and provide feedback.

Video: Use high-impact video content to articulate key concepts s to communicate important HR messages.

Timely communications: Send timely communications through company-sponsored social channels where people can consume, share and react to content as their schedules permit.

Create a Social Presence

Nothing prevents employees from sharing information independently through public social media platforms, or competitors from reaching out to talented employees through social media.

HR can be the moderators a social discussion that reaches out to anincreasingly important corporate social audience for the benefit of the business.

Social recruiting: Invest in social recruiting efforts, including candidate outreach, video job descriptions and creative use of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to reach candidates.

Employer brand management: Monitor, understand and react when necessary to comments about the organization posted on social sites that candidates and employees visit frequently.

Responsiveness: Respond to internal and external posts in a confident, timely manner to appreciate positive comments and to challenge negative ones.

Reduce email dependence: Lead the way by increasing the volume and types of HR communications delivered through social channels while reducing reliance on email communications that are easy to send but just as easily ignored or forgotten.

Shift to Networks

Rigid reporting relationships and hierarchy are inhibitors to collaboration, with good ideas becoming isolated within the confines of organizational silos. Digital talent managers can take a lead role in opening cross-organization communication channels.

Identify digital silos: Identify areas that are not collaborating effectively.

Make connections happen: Foster connections across organizations that are good for the business outside direct reporting relationships.

Recognize the connectors within the business: Recognize evidence of connectors within the organization who share contributions outside the confines of
direct reporting relationship — especially managers who promote collaboration.

Sustain relationships: Create network connections with alumni of the organization to solicit their opinions and feedback on topics of interest to your organization, including recruiting referrals.

Understand the Full Employee Profile

Capturing rich employee profiles — who they are, what they can do, what motivates them, why they come, why they stay, who they work with, etc. — is increasingly part of running a modern business effectively. Digital talent managers help their organization gather this essential baseline organizational data from people.

Simplify the HR transaction: Reduce administrative burden of transactions by simplifying how those transactions take place, ideally using online forms that are designed to work on mobile devices and that take very little time for a manager or employee to complete.

Gain multidimensional perspective: Capture real-time performance management feedback for a better perspective about the talents of the people on the team — and in return give them the type of feedback they can use to improve and grow.

Focus on Social Engagement

Here are examples of measurements digital talent managers can use to
offer a new lens on their organization’s social engagement.

Social graph visualization: Visualize the social graph of where communications are occurring between different groups to increase collaboration, communication and connection.

Predictive career development: Measure correlation between performance and learning accomplishments and future feedback to engage and retain top performers and understand risk.

Community engagement:Understand the most active members of internal social channels, including frequent posters and who has a high follower count, to learn why their message is engaging the community.

Top influencers and connectors: Identify “connectors” who work outside formal hierarchy to bridge communications and knowledge sharing gaps.

Employer brand:Observe and measure social perception of employer brand by both candidates and existing employees to understand sentiment and potential obstacles to attraction and retention.

Popular content: See which posts, content, videos and content gains the most “likes,” hashtags, Twitter  mentions, comments and replies to see topics of greatest interest to the organization — or where important content is failing to attract an audience — to adjust corporate communication and message accordingly.

Recognition:Learn which people or teams are being recognized to recognize, reward and reinforce positive behaviors.

These measurements uncover cultural trends and reveal the sentiment of social interactions. Especially valuable is identifying where collaboration is working and where it’s breaking down. Somewhere on the team there’s a contributor working outside the hierarchy and across teams to share knowledge whose efforts are worth discovering and whose behavior is worth replicating.

Promote career development: Shift HR data collection from a transaction mindset to one focused on how contributions, comments and feedback that helps grow careers.

Take Social Learning Seriously

Formal learning content doesn’t begin to demonstrate the types of community knowledge available in the minds of experts throughout the organization. Digital talent managers use social learning to unleash the power of that community.

Relevant content: Create and share content created by experts on the team through social channels in a timely manner that optimizes the relevance of information to groups in the network.

Lower cost for precision answers: Encourage experts to frequently share video content on topics of interest to capture their expert knowledge without incurring the production costs of formal learning management system course content.

Collaborative perspectives: Give access to comments and feedback on posted materials that expand the value of what was originally posted by adding new facts and clarifying comments.

Respond to Expectations of a Millennial Workforce

Millennial workers who have digital expectations make up about 35 percent of the workforce in 2015, according the U.S. Labor Department. Digital talent managers can respond to the expectations of these workers.

Create mentor and peer networks: Connect younger workers with mentors and peers outside hierarchical boundaries who can engage them in assignments they find interesting.

Ongoing feedback: Complement formal performance appraisal processes with the ongoing feedback that this audience expects from managers, peers, mentors and teammates.

Technology: Offer user experiences that this audience expects, including access via mobile and rich video content.

Creating a Data-Driven Lens on Talent

To complement social collaboration, digital talent managers will use new measurements to reveal insights about their organizations. With new access to data about people, digital talent managers can reveal talent trends, opportunities, risks and other information that affects business outcomes in unprecedented ways.

Alexander Levitt, a talent scout for the Chicago Cubs, said the data-driven processes used by Major League Baseball, including social and networking analysis, make sense in a business setting.

“We rely on a rich set of player data to make the best scouting decisions, and on our extended network to give us leads to find and recruit the new players we want to add to the system,” said Levitt, who previously worked in corporate talent management and recruiting roles. “Businesses should be taking advantage of the same types of data tools and analysis that we use for scouting and player development.”

Levitt said that while data isn’t the only factor used in the Cubs’ scouting process, it is a core component in the team’sdecision-making.

“Baseline data about the players we have in the system today helps us target the players we need,” he said. “We collect a rich set of data about each player we’re scouting, and we use aggregate data to analyze player talent trends, including the effectiveness of particular sources of talent within the geography so we can focus our efforts in a smart way.”

The technology and social business practices exist today for organizations to manage the people in a similar data-driven fashion.

The types of cycle-bound and process-based measurements that defined the online reporting of first-generation talent management solutions will be complemented and then increasingly supplanted by a richer, data-driven perspective on the workforce.

This includes talent management data analysis that goes far beyond traditional measurements, like “number of applicants” or “number of people who were rated a ‘3’ in the annual performance appraisal process,” Levitt said.

Digital talent managers will use data to understand what success and risk are today, and to reveal trends that will help the business grow and thrive in the future.

The Enterprise Digital Leadership Opportunity

Social collaboration and digital talent management are coming to the workplace, and businesses that do not embrace this change face competitive challenges from those that do.

Talent leaders should consider the effect this evolution will have on their careers, including understanding the demand for this type of data about people within the business and promoting the kinds of information and data that HR can offer.

The digital evolution of the workplace needs leaders. Talent leaders who connect people in nonhierarchical networks, create boundary-free information-sharing and learning, reach and engage people through social channels, and provide insightful people analytics will make their businesses more competitive.

 This evolution represents the most significant leadership opportunity for HR in decades and an unprecedented career opportunity for the new digital talent managers.