Use of Skillrater at BD
Unlike most performance review tools, which use pre-determined categories and standardized questions, the Skillrater feedback tool is customizable. BD used the tool to gather responses on the five leadership competencies the ECE was designed to develop:
1. Think and plan strategically.
2. Work effectively across cultures.
3. Work on global and/or diverse project teams.
4. Have a leadership presence.
5. Leverage the BD network.
Much of the feedback Skillrater generates is in the form of simple 1-to-5 numerical ratings. ECE cohort members received average ratings of 4.1 or higher, confirming their measurable improvement in the five competencies.
Skillrater also gathered qualitative feedback from bosses, direct reports, peers and team members. Common comments included:
• The ECE developed participants’ leadership skills. One co-worker commented that a cohort member had “increased his leadership presence significantly,” moving from a focus on technical concerns to a better grasp of personnel and product design issues.
• The ECE helped participants gain a global perspective. One cohort member said the program helped him “understand the big picture and not just focus on what I have in front of me.”
• Most participants mentioned the value of the global contacts they have added to their networks through the ECE.
Skillrater: Part of the Process
As BD used Skillrater to assess the ECE, it found that the unique feedback tool went beyond data gathering, actually playing an important role in the leadership development process.
Most assessment tools collect feedback annually or quarterly, generating results that are immediately out-of-date and not tied to specific events and activities. Skillrater, however, is built on a social network platform that facilitates continuous feedback that is specific, timely, positive, forward-focused and transparent.
Many of BD’s ECE participants said their development as leaders continued as they interacted with each other and other stakeholders using the Skillrater platform.
“Skillrater feedback is concise and succinct,” said Dan Herman, procurement manager, Instruments Manufacturing, BD Diagnostic Systems. “It gets straight to the point. It is not as lengthy or convoluted as the feedback generated by other review tools.”
Herman said he sent Skillrater rating requests to five people and received immediate feedback from three: a manager, a peer and a direct report. “It was really helpful,” he said.
Skillrater is less about reviewing past performance and more about encouraging future performance. It is designed to promote ARAD: appreciation, rating, advice and discussion. By gathering specific input from all directions on an ongoing basis, Skillrater helps workers identify not only “what” needs to improve, but “how.”
As Skillrater called upon BD’s ECE participants to give each other constructive feedback, it caused then to focus on each other’s strengths and skills, which accomplishes team building and enhances the value of the network.
Franzone said BD will continue to use Skillrater. “Skillrater is concise and provides specific feedback. It is a great alternative to traditional 360-degree processes, which are long and create a lot of rater fatigue. Skillrater is definitely the direction in which we are moving at BD.”
A Review of Social Performance Management.
Some of the key players in this new, rapidly emerging field.
by Louis Carter
Integrating the power of social networking into the modern workplace is a process that has only just begun. The near-future result will be a complete makeover of the way modern corporations work. Traditional management styles and hierarchies will give way to a new way of doing business that is chaotic, collaborative, highly productive and very fast.
Social Performance Management is new enough that many executives are still unfamiliar with the term. That won't last much longer. The power of SPM will be impossible to ignore, resist or undo. SPM is the future of workplace productivity, and the future is arriving now.
The Very Short History of SPM
The first SPM providers began popping up five years ago. Yammer, now owned by Microsoft, and Rypple, acquired by Salesforce.com and re-launched as Work.com, both came on the market in 2008. NationalField was launched the same year by three leaders of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, which had been much heralded for its innovative use of social media.
Saba began merging its traditional HR software with social networking in 2009. In 2010, MangoSpring released Mango Apps, and 7Geese introduced the first social version of its performance management solution. That same year, Globoforce trademarked the term "Social Recognition" and WorkSimple began touting its trademarked "Social Goals." Our own organization, Best Practice Institute, launched Skillrater, a social rating and collaboration platform, in 2012.
What is Social Performance Management? It is the use of a social network platform, whether cloud-based or residing on an intranet, to optimize workplace performance and accomplish HR and talent management functions. Some of the most common applications of SPM are goal management, employee alignment and engagement, development and coaching, talent mapping and recognition.
Many companies forbid their workers from logging on to Facebook or Twitter while at work; celebrity tweets and Farmville addictions can be a drag on productivity. But imagine a workplace where a social network is a primary platform through which workers communicate and collaborate. A workplace where the weekly staff meeting and the annual performance review are replaced (or enhanced) by continuous online interactions. An organization where goal-setting and team-building and project management and performance reviews take place out in the open, on a social network, with all employees engaged and participating. That's Social Performance Management.
It is ironic that SPM, which is rapidly becoming the business world's most important use of social networking, is so late to the social business table. Most companies today believe they have embraced the power of social media because they have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. However, many businesses have not yet begun to comprehend the real transformation that social networking will inevitably introduce to the workplace.
As one Harvard Business Review blogger said earlier this year: "Too many companies have kept social platforms separate from their essential businesses." Everyone acknowledges that social media are changing the world, from relationships to politics to entertainment, but businesses are only beginning to focus the power of social on revolutionizing the way we work.
How We Got Here
When the World Wide Web emerged at the start of the 1990s, businesses first saw the Internet as a marketing space. Company websites were essentially digital versions of the brochure and Yellow Page ad.
The term "Web 2.0" was coined in 1999 to herald the arrival of the interactive web. Through forums and blogs and wikis, the Internet became an ever-changing, ever-expanding world of user-generated content. Facebook, begun in 2004 to pick out the hottest girls on campus, spread social networking around the world and blazed the trail for other social networks.
As the "new web" created opportunities for new business uses, Web 2.0 led to Enterprise 2.0. Organizations began to ask: How can we use the new social technologies to advance business strategy?
Not surprisingly, the first place many businesses turned was marketing. Companies with a website added a Facebook page and launched a corporate blog. It has taken a long time for businesses to grasp that the explosive power of a digital platform, which enables the rapid exchange of information and ideas among multiple people, can be used for far more than merely hawking our wares.
One of the first non-marketing applications of social media was in talent recruitment. Today much of the heavy lifting in matching workers and jobs takes place online. But that's just the start. True social business and Management 2.0 are being born today as businesses are applying the power of social to performance management.
Making Performance Management Social
Most companies are dissatisfied with the results of their traditional performance management systems. The 2010 Study on The State of Performance Management asked 750 senior-level HR executives to give their company's performance management systems an A to F grade. More than half gave their own systems a C, D or F.
It is time to try something new. Social Performance Management is very new. Here are eight common functionalities of the first wave of SPM solutions, with one or two examples accompanying many of them.
Email revolutionized business. Almost half of office workers in a recent Ask.com survey said most of their office communications are by email, IM and the telephone, even when colleagues are nearby. Social solutions will introduce a similar but even more radical transformation in the way we communicate at work, replacing the one-to-one exchanges of private emails with one-to-many and many-to-many communications.
Consider the exponential improvement in quality and speed that will result. The person with the right answer or solution or idea will be able to chime in immediately; often it will be a person who would not have been consulted in a one-on-one exchange. The entire team will follow the discussion, sharing information and acquiring ownership in the outcome.
Such communication will be tantamount to self-management. Before SPM, a supervisor receiving an email might never have found time to send an answer. With SPM, day-to-day situations will often be addressed by the team before the supervisor ever gets involved.
One recent study estimated that if all of the knowledge hidden in private business emails was shared on a social platform, employee productivity would increase by 25%.
• Yammer began in 2008 by touting itself as "Facebook for business." People can log-in for free using their company email address and interact with everyone else with a similar email domain. The product took off like a rocket. Microsoft was certainly impressed, paying $1.2 billion to buy the company in 2012. Yammer boasts about 8 million users today.
• 7Geese chose its name in admiration of a group of geese flying in tight V-formation, a feat which requires continuous communication and collaboration. The company was founded in 2008 and introduced its first social performance management solution in 2010. 7Geese says that its product "gives everyone a voice regardless of their position in the organizational chart … [It] helps move from an Us vs. Them (management vs. employees) organization to a We organization where everyone feels valued and heard."
There is, of course, a big difference between social networks like Facebook and Twitter and the networks that are becoming platforms for corporate work. The former networks are mostly casual ways to occasionally stay in touch with friends. However, Social Performance Management platforms provide a way for team members to work together and achieve company goals. SPM is not just a digital water cooler; it is a powerful environment in which workers are helped to co-labor, i.e., collaborate.
• MangoSpring was founded in 2007 and introduced MangoApps in 2010. MangoApps' social network comes with a toolbox of features designed to deliver on the promise: "Everything you need to collaborate." The tools include MangoProjects for project management, MangoTasks for task and time management, MangoDocs for document sharing and MangoIdeas for ideation. Most SPM solutions offer similar tools.
One tenet of social business is that workers are not exclusively motivated by a paycheck at the end of the week. The enthusiastic worker is the one who has found intrinsic motivation.
Traditional management styles have failed miserably to appeal to workers' inner drive to excel. Executives and managers make decisions from on high, handing them down without explanation and with little regard for the workers whom they expect to carry out their instructions.
More thoughtful leaders may still make the grave error of believing that a PowerPoint revealing the company's business strategy and mission statement is going to generate genuine excitement from the rank and file. Most people are just not motivated that way.
What does motivate people? Human connections. People will do much and go far to satisfy their sense of belonging. They want to be a valued member, not of a strategy or corporation, but of a group of people.
Business social is one of the most powerful tools ever developed to cultivate that sense of belonging. Through social networks, employees can connect with each other and their overseers to share with and encourage each other. Through SPM solutions, employees are empowered to their value in the organization and draw meaning from the position they hold.
4.Training and Coaching
Business training and development have not changed much in recent years. Websites have replaced textbooks, and PowerPoints have replaced chalkboards, but training still largely revolves around classroom lectures and conference presentations. Social networking is changing all that.
Workers can access the information they need online. What they need beyond that are knowledgeable teachers and coaches to help them understand and apply what they are learning. Social networks are an ideal environment for real-time learning that is spontaneous and practical.
• Work.com is owned by Salesforce, which specializes in services for sales people, from account management to customer relations to lead management. One feature Work.com promises is real-time coaching for sales, service and marketing.
• Our Skillrater product works similarly to enable real-time continuous mentoring. Employees can request a rating on a skill or activity whenever they choose. Feedback accompanying the rating offers guidance on how to improve. After making improvements, an employee can request a new rating to document one's progress. The result is an ongoing training process that is employee-driven.
5.Goal-setting and Goal Management
A good company has well-defined goals, and those goals should be communicated clearly and repeatedly to team members. A business social network is an ideal tool with which to achieve that.
Productivity is optimized when each individual has personal goals that connect with the group goals. When individuals share their goals on a social network, they turn their personal goals into social goals, drawing the feedback and encouragement of co-workers. As we tell our Skillrater customers, participants "help each other get better over time."
• WorkSimple, launched in 2010, built its product around the idea of goal-setting and goal-sharing and even trademarked the term "social goals." On its website WorkSimple says: "We learned along the way that employees love social goals. They knew for the first time what was expected of them … They could see what others are working on, and how their job role and goals impacted the greater objectives…"
However, WorkSimple closed in February, citing undercapitalization, i.e., not enough paying customers.
Recognition is the main thing in Globoforce's approach toworkplace productivity. The company began in 1999 with the concept of "strategic recognition," tying recognition to company goals. In 2010, Globoforce introduced Social Recognition, a social network that enables "a continuous stream of recognition activity" in the workplace.
Almost all SPM solutions offer ways for co-workers to recognize each other, from a simple "Thanks!" or "Good job!" to various kinds of badges and rewards.
7.Feedback and Appraisal
Performance appraisal is a big reason why a lot of what we call "management" results in embittered, resentful workers. One thing almost everyone agrees on is that the annual performance review is a negative experience we would all love to do without. However, most companies continue to do periodic reviews, perhaps because they have not found a feasible alternative. Now Social Performance Management provides that alternative.
Traditional performance appraisals fail because they attempt to feed months of management oversight into a single meeting, diluting any praise with the inevitable criticisms, which come far too long after the fact. Employees leave hurt or angry. Statistics show that productivity often goes down after a performance review.
Social networking is a far better way to give feedback. It takes place in real-time. It focuses on one task at a time. Positive feedback is delivered when it is deserved and not watered down with negative comments. Negative feedback may sting a bit, but much less so when an employee knows one can earn positive remarks within days or weeks, rather than waiting another year for another review.
Some companies have even abandoned the review process in favor of the social platform. Most companies so far continue to conduct annual reviews, but now the reviews are informed by a continuous stream of feedback. All of an employee's positive moments throughout the year have been document, and the employee is less likely to be blind-sided by criticism.
• Saba's performance management toolslend themselves to companies that have not eliminated periodic review. For example, Saba Pulse tracks goals, achievements and missed deadlines, with the intent to "incorporate social feedback into formal performance reviews."
• Work.com includes the ability to give anonymous feedback. "The element of anonymity makes it easier to get honest, constructive and helpful feedback, and it can make feedback easier to give and take," the company says.
• In stark contrast, Skillrater does not permit anonymous feedback. We believe feedback is ineffective when employees do not know the source. To the contrary, anonymous feedback can create a toxic work environment. Similarly, we negative feedback is strongly discouraged. The best productivity improvements occur when feedback remains positive and future-focused.
Qualified talent has been the holy grail of corporate business for two decades. Most companies are recruiting, training and stealing workers as fast as they can. However, many companies could do much better at taking advantage of the "hidden talent" they already have on the payroll.
An administrative assistant is also fluent in Spanish. Someone in accounting has years of public speaking experience. A warehouse worker is a natural-born salesperson. Another employee happens to be a talented artist and graphic designer. You get the idea of "hidden talent."
Talent mapping solutions to identify such "hidden gems" have been around for a while. However, combining talent mapping with social networking is transforming the search for hidden talent. Employees are empowered to speak up on their behalf when they possess a talent or insight that meets a specific need. Co-workers, who often know more about their peers than do managers and supervisors, also have a forum to speak up on someone's behalf.
• Saba's People Cloud and SilkRoad's Point are two examples of social solutions geared toward talent management.
Our product, Skillrater, uses a social rating system that not only identifies but quantifies talent. Workers can request a 1 to 5 rating at any time on any skill or activity. The numeric ratings provide a way to measure one's progress over time. When the company requires a particular skill, it can turn to Skillrater's rating metrics to discover a hidden talent waiting to be put to new use.
Social business, the use of social network platforms for workplace communication and collaboration, is so new that it is not on the radar of many business leaders. Many executives still think social networks are primarily a marketing tool (for example, a Facebook page and a Twitter feed).
However, a few cutting-edge businesses are harnessing the power of social platforms to actually facilitate workplace productivity. Sharing information, ideas, and feedback in real time on an interactive online platform has the power to transform the way we work. I believe social networks for business are the most important innovation in the modern workplace since PCs and the Internet.
Although the first generation of social business platforms began emerging only five years ago, a second generation of tools is now being introduced. They are designed to keep communication flowing, but do so in more structured, strategy-aligned ways that can truly boost productivity.
Facebook for business
Some of the first entries in the social business marketplace were Yammer, Rypple, and NationalField, all of which came out in 2008. Saba released its first social networking solutions for HR in 2009, and Mango Apps, 7Geese, and Globoforce came along in 2010.
Yammer, which has been acquired by Microsoft, originally described itself as “Facebook for business.” Rypple, bought by Salesforce.com and rebranded as Work.com, gives companies an online motivational and coaching tool. Globoforce invites supervisors and peers to encourage each other with positive feedback, including digital badges and rewards.
The many tools populating the social business field are leading to a new level of organizational transparency. For example, we have grown dependent on email, both by sending a digital message to a co-worker down the hallway and halfway around the world. Consider the transformation when co-workers replace one-to-one emails with group collaboration on a social platform. A worker in Charlotte asks a question, a colleague in London answers, a team member in Shanghai provides clarification, and many other employees are brought along for the ride. With social tools, employees pool their knowledge and get the work done.
Social tools also act as new platforms for performance appraisals that are relevant and positive in real time. Work.com offers the option of anonymous feedback, which the company says is easier to give and receive. Saba’s Pulse funnels social feedback into a company’s formal review process. Adobe Systems, on the other hand, has done away with traditional performance reviews and has replaced it with its own new platform, Check-In, for informal real-time responses.
The downside of social business tools
There is a downside, however, to this new abundance of interaction and feedback. Many workers already are overwhelmed by information overload. More information can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how it is managed.
One question corporations should evaluate is whether their social tools are generating quality feedback. Unlike traditional appraisals, most social feedback is delivered unfiltered. Is the feedback any good? Is the feedback pointing workers in the direction of company strategy? Or is the feedback random and possibly even counterproductive?
Also, most social feedback is vague and unquantifiable. Executives are understandably skeptical about their employees spending work time shooting the breeze with each other online. Sure, some workers would rather hear, “Way to go!” than receive measurable evaluations. But does the former contribute to productivity?
Social business: second generation
A second generation of tools is now emerging that captures the power of workplace collaboration and directs that power to strategically produce measurable results.
Remember, this is a market in which the first wave of products was essentially competing to be a Facebook for business. Now, the leading products in this space are vying to add features that provide objective, measurable data.
MangoApps, 7 Geese, and Saba Pulse all feature goal tracking, and Work.com touts “metrics-based goals.” Work.com also is turning social recognition into data by offering automatic recognition based on measurable triggers, and Globoforce tells prospective users that its social recognition “creates a pool of valuable behavioral data.”
Among this second wave of social business tools is Skillrater, released in 2012. Skillrater is the first social business tool to provide metrics-based feedback alongside qualitative feedback. Such feedback includes 1 to 5 ratings on specific skills and activities that align with business strategy, combined with real-time advice on how to get better on those skills and activities. Team members can continually request feedback at any time on the same set of activities, thus making it uniquely able to provide change metrics over time.
These second generation social tools are providing structure and metrics for social business. The result is deeper, more purposeful feedback, which is very needed in today’s chaotic business world.
Transform 360s with Continuous Feedback, Rapid Results
By Louis Carter
Modern corporations have a need for speed. Companies race to keep up with relentless competition, stakeholder expectations and continuous change. But an organization can move only as quickly as its people do.
Companies that want rapid results must be able to give their team members rapid feedback. However, most companies continue to be held back by traditional performance systems that revolve around dreaded annual reviews, usually accompanied by lengthy reports.
Our company, Best Practice Institute, serves and consults with some of the world's largest corporations. Most of the senior executives I know readily admit that their performance management systems are far less effective than they would like.
Most systems give employees feedback at the end of arbitrary 90- or 180- or 365-day periods. Much of that feedback arrives months after the events that prompted it. In an era of constant change, an employee is likely to have switched positions, supervisors or even companies, rendering the annual review moot upon arrival.
If businesses want faster results, they need a much faster way to deliver feedback and direction to their workers.
The Ubiquitous 360 Review
The 360-degree review is built into the annual process of most large corporations, including almost all Fortune 500 companies. The 360 is a powerful tool. However, the traditional 360 system is agonizingly slow. Input from multiple sources of an employee's work circle must be gathered, collated, analyzed and delivered. That can take weeks or months. With each passing day, the feedback becomes more obsolete, while the productivity improvements the feedback was intended to encourage are delayed.
Performance management took a big step in the right direction with the introduction of web-based 360s. Online tools make 360 reviews easier to customize and complete. However, web-based 360s have not introduced any fundamental change to the old-fashioned process, they have just speeded things up a bit. The results remain the same: detailed reports, usually created once a year, in conjunction with an employee's perfunctory annual review.
Continuous Feedback and Power to the People
Can't we use the phenomenal power of the Internet for something more than simply speeding up the paperwork? With the rise of social networks, we live in a day of instantaneous communication. Why can't employee feedback be that fast and that real?
In 2012, Best Practice Institute unveiled Skillrater, the first anytime feedback tool residing on a social network. Skillrater empowers companies to break free from lengthy reports and annual reviews and move to a new level of productivity powered by continuous 360-degree feedback delivered day by day, activity by activity.
Skillrater transfers the power of feedback to the employees themselves. Team members who want to improve and be noticed request feedback. Each feedback request and response focuses on a single activity and takes just seconds to create and reply to. Feedback takes the form of five-star ratings, creating metrics of an employee's progress over time. The feedback can be enhanced with affirmations and suggestions for improvement.
A Social Network for Business Productivity
Rapid feedback, made possible through Skillrater's social collaboration platform, gets rapid results. When employees get positive feedback, they are eager to maintain the high marks they have earned. Negative feedback is less painful, because employees are able to make the necessary improvements and request another rating to demonstrate one's progress, rather than waiting for the next annual review.
Progress that used to take years now happens in days and weeks. While the old-fashioned annual review focuses on the past, continuous feedback turns the focus forward, pointing to the next step in a company's and an employee's progress.
The best way for businesses to achieve rapid results is to break out of the annual cycle and start giving employees rapid feedback. Continuous input that is employee-driven and future-focused has the potential to revolutionize the workplace.