“Adapt or die,” is how we hear statistical mastermind Billy Bean -- played by Brad Pitt in “Moneyball” -- describe the application of analytics to baseball, and it is time HR managers heard the same thing. Here are just three of the many ways HR managers and leads can turn to baseball-inspired predictive analytics to improve their efforts and break existing talent biases.
Promote to the Majors More Effectively Before analytics arrived in baseball, Peter Brand saw a world based on player affection when what a team really needed was wins. In the film, we hear how pitching star Chad Bradford’s submarine style pushed his acquisition cost under 10 percent of his value because it “looks funny.” Without statistical predictions on performance, his future and that of the Oakland Athletics’ would have been troubled.
In hiring and managing our talent, there are plenty of attributes that may keep someone from making the promotion cut. Predictive analytics can help remove those roadblocks and support the people who deserve it by judging based on performance data since their hire.
Objective ranking of candidates on their past successes help HR managers promote people who consistently knock it out of the park. Analytics doesn’t remove gut instinct, but can provide a reason to look past it.
That same Big Data baseline also helps HR talent add new people to the roster based on known leading indicators of job performance. When a top candidate is found, they can be fast-tracked through the process to move quickly and secure them at optimum value.
Learn What Your Roster Needs Organizations that have very specific indicators can also use baselines to determine which skills combinations play best. “Moneyball” views wins above replacement (WAR) as the most important stat for a player’s performance, and it’s a complicated thing to incorporate innately.
WAR is essentially a numerical representation of how valuable a player is -- based on a review of nearly every available stat -- relative to a below-average replacement from the minors.
Businesses with lengthy data recordkeeping can create their own metrics similar to WAR thanks to modeling and predictive analytics. Performances based on certain categories or characteristics can be evaluated historically, limiting the need to make changes to learn outcomes.
Just as in baseball, these metrics are always relative to the position you’re looking to fill, so a strong hiring model can point out candidates that are the fit you need.
Scout the Right Talent Knowing what you’re looking for doesn’t always mean you find it, but predictive analytics has a benefit here too.
By analyzing past successes in individual hiring and hiring events, HR can optimize placement relative to job responses. Firms can generate high-quality responses by precisely targeting posting locations and determining what characteristics -- such as current certifications, title or employment duration – must be listed as requirements.
A deep dive into existing HR data often provides a clear look at past time-to-fill and fill ratios. Predictive modeling here can help HR managers reduce overall search time and improve candidate ranking. That means the right talent is found, matched to the proper position and offers are made sooner and more afford-ably.
Always Update Your Playbook Past behavior has its best chance to guide future success when companies implement predictive analytics. Because of its historical nature, data paradigms need strong collection and retention strategies plus the talent to maintain and improve models.
Adopting an analytics mindset will help businesses to incorporate traditional achievement characteristics as well as specific talent management attributes, behaviors and activities. Updating this data with new attributes and requirements, such as social media expertise, can help prevent any company from misjudging their players or mismanaging their teams.
Predictive analytics can optimize any talent management team by helping them -- as Peter Grant would say -- stop buying players, and start buying wins.
The best way to keep your statistical playbook up-to-date is to keep learning from the best in the industry, like the analytics heads for the giants of baseball, the Texas Rangers. Join them and other Rangers executives for a thought-provoking discussion on where analytics performs best and what is needed to help it thrive at BPI's annual Conference.
The Best Practice Institute strives to deliver high-quality services and support for companies of all sizes as they optimize talent and encourage growth from within. We hope you’ll join us at the home of the Rangers for this unique collaborative experience designed for talent acquisitions specialists, development executes, and CHROs.
Many corporations are not satisfied with their high potential leadership development programs. The problem for some organizations is that their approach is too linear and programmatic. You can’t make leaders the same way you make sausage.
Developing high potentials requires more than checklists and timelines. It is about cultivating the exceptional talent of unique individuals. Those high potentials need unique and custom-made development plans.
For more articles like this visit Best Practice Institute's Leadership and Management blog. Use skillrater, our anytime 360-degree feedback tool: www.skillrater.com and develop your high-potential leaders in an open and transparent manner backed by a researched methodology in feed-forward, anytime feedback.
Google Glass did a nice job of introducing the concept of augmented reality to eyewear several years ago. And, a host of innovative entrepreneurs and their companies began to pop out of the woodwork. Then, something great happened. Much like the app revolution, which according to Tech Crunch "died several years ago," innovative companies began to see the applications to their own workplace and come up with AR - "Smart Glasses" of their own. And now, the Smart Glass app revolution has begun.
Take Francesco Giartosio's GlassUp technology as an example. First of all, it’s a crazy-good-looking pair of glasses. Italian design and Italian technology. When used in an operating room for example, their new technology app can show the surgeon images and data he needs during surgery. This is a far cry from pulling up a youtube video.
This particular software is designed to interface with the surgeon’s hospital, and she can see images of how things are supposed to look, as she is performing the actual surgery! It’s rather like having another experienced doctor in the room with her, advising on what to do. Now, I don’t suspect that this will allow all of us to become sidewalk-surgeons, but it will prove helpful to the medical industry.
Other developers, like Percy Stocker of Ubimax GmbH, Ankur Gopal of Interapt Glass, and Corey Mack, CEO and Head of Design of LAFORGE Optical, and Alberto Torres, CEO at Atheer Labs are all busy bringing new apps to market for these exciting new glasses they are developing as well.
Take a look at the future of Augmented Reality and Smart Glasses in this video
Ubimax's xAssist features are at the core of the future of real-time coaching and assessment of technical competencies. Imagine your glasses at work allowing you to show what you see, to a parts repair company 3000 miles away, as you prepare to install their new gizmo in your current industrial machine. During the install, they can send you the images of what you should do next, as they watch right along with you, as you do it. You can converse with them, and the results would be a tremendous savings in time and money, as it always get installed right, the first time!
Perhaps something is not working correctly? Just put on your smart glasses, and show the tech in Japan what you see and hear. The possibilities are endless for advancing productivity worldwide.
Then apply yet another layer to assess and develop the technical skills of employees in all industries - from insurance adjusters, front line employees, to phlebotomists, surgeons, engineers, oil rig drillers, truck drivers, chefs, and the list continues... Imagine a way for the expert, patient, or customer to assess the work of the technician, engineer, doctor, or other professional on their own glasses. The field of assessment and development will become deepened with real-time coaching, and immediate feedback on specific activities and tasks achieved.
Workers on an oilrig are often servicing pieces of equipment or working at height. Smart Glasses enable them to access relevant information and interact with it, while keeping their hands free for their critical task without compromising safety.
Warehouse professionals now have an optimized and streamlined workflow to guide them through packing lists, pick and pack tasks, and real time inventory management. Augmented reality allows for quick and easy part identification and hands free barcode scanning.
The application to the field of Human Resources are endless. Imagine providing the exact instructions for training an employee on the best practices in rolling the perfect taco at your favorite fast food Taco restaurant. Do you hear the eponymous bell ringing in the background?
Welcome to the future. The only impediment to applying Moore's Law of improving this technology and its applications is your imagination, and bravery in placing your investment dollars and teams to take part in achieving excellence in practice.
For more articles like this visit Best Practice Institute's Leadership and Management blog. Use this tool to apply the kind anytime feedback that can be applied to real time activities at work: www.skillrater.com and develop your high-potential technical leaders in an open, transparent, and just-in-time manner.
As a Human Resources executive, you already know how important a technical competency model can be to your organization. For those who are in the process of developing a technical competency model, and already have an existing centralized talent management system, this article will give you some great tips to help when implementing your model.
What can an effective technical competency model do for you?
Technical competency models have become an important part of organizational leadership. This type of framework can do many things for an organization such as the following:
It is essential to be able to successfully designed, developed and implemented a technical competency model. Some of the most important elements are that these models are at the center of a successful Human Resources Department. These elements include being able to understand the specific knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA’s) that are most needed in a specific position. Recruiting should be looked at as a type of art form and people outside the Human Resources field don’t understand the importance of this.
Here are some tips to help with the integration of a competency model with your overall talent management system:
Technical competency modeling is an innovative way to improve strategic management decisions.
Planning and implanting technical competency models has sharply increased over the past few years. Organizations all across the nation are seeing that it has become a necessary part of strategic planning. One such company is Devereux Cleo Wallace, a health care organization located in Colorado. Turnover became so bad that it had a rate of 60 percent. The Human Resources Department had been doing an excellent job of recruiting and hiring some of the best candidates who had the right experience and education for the job; however, that wasn’t enough. The company designed and implemented a competency-based candidate selection process and the turnover rate quickly fell between 15 percent and 20 percent. This is an excellent example of how important this process is for any organization, and competency-based interviewing is one of the most frequently used interview styles used in companies all across the U.S.
There are many Fortune 500 companies who are designing and implementing these policies with excellent results. Some of these companies include AT&T, PepsiCo, General Electric, KPMG and American Express, just to name a few. In fact, AT&T had a major transformation recently in its HR Department. When the company had to go through many hard transitions in the late ‘90s, they lost many employees and had a very high turnover. After much analysis, the company found that they were able to make positive changes that ended up having a great change. They also found that they were able to locate the right candidates by looking for those who are good with people and are also competitive and high performing.
Taking the next step
A recent study by Towers Watson revealed that competency models are vital to an organization’s culture, and this particular competency framework assists with attracting the top candidates and retaining the talent who has already been hired. Once the appropriate analysis has been made for your organization, it will give you a better idea of what would work best. Designing and implementing a competency model for any organization will bring about a positive change that will in turn help the overall strategic planning.
Businesses are constantly changing structure and policies because technology also changes and becomes more and more pervasive in the workforce. Social media, something that managers encouraged employees to watch out for and avoid posting on, is now a driving source for employees as brand ambassadors. Everyone from entry level workers to managers are encouraged to post company news and accomplishments on their own social media accounts.
According to a Forbes article from earlier this year, over 57% of employees value their employers sophistication and use of technology. The change in how the work place interacts with tech and utilizes it for productivity has made it so that businesses have not only considered using the likes of Facebook and Twitter, but HR apps as well. Many people already rely on mobile applications for accessing a car service, paying bills, checking their bank accounts, and even ordering food. Having cloud systems and applications that conglomerate many aspects of an HR department is here now.
Some widely used HR applications in 2015 include:
TargetRecruit- A recruiting app that is designed to facilitate various firms with a large range of tasks including sales, accounting, social media, and sales. Features include allowing recruiters to easily organize information from potential employees and set up interviews as well. The app also enables timesheet organization and filing, and even setting up a payroll.
Talent Rover- Another application that uses a straightforward approach to managing tracking software and simple interfaces. The app also allows for email and phone integration, a resume manager and job boards, organizing expense reports, and online chatting.
Litmos- This is more of a training management app that allows employees to access learning materials at any time and anywhere. Litmos also lets companies get ahold of partners and certify contractors easily and quickly. A lot of leading brands and companies currently use Litmos including YouTube, Exact Target, Zumba, and build.com.
Box- Though this is not a recruiting app for HR, it allows for easier collaboration and information sharing in the workplace. It allows for file sharing and editing, managing community commenting, and assigning tasks. It’s used by major brands like P&G and GAP and has gotten rave reviews from publications like INC and Fast Company for its ease in usability.
Skillrater – an anytime 360-degree feedback tool that is designed to formulate social circles within organizations that enable real-time advice for actual work activity. It is based on an appreciative framework for feedback in the form of advice that takes the sting out of traditional performance reviews and is based on real events rather than generalizations about the employee’s performance.
Regardless of what industry a company encompasses, communication and efficiency are always going to be important, especially when meeting the needs of customers and employees alike. Apps have the potential to make management easier, increasingly organized, and more efficient. Expect to see a growth in HR related apps throughout the rest of 2015 and into 2016.
Corporate executives have been trying for years to tear down the silos and achieve integrated talent management. It is something most companies want to achieve. However, if a company cannot integrate its talent management functions, how can it hope to achieve full integration and standardisation across business units?
The benefits of integrated talent management (ITM) include streamlined talent processes, cost savings, and improvements in collecting and sharing talent data. But that’s just the start. ITM leads to a more skilled workforce aligned with company strategy, and the right workforce is the key to boosting productivity.
Several software-as-a-service ITM suites have emerged to provide technological help in integrating talent functions and data.
Despite the emergence of these technologies, many corporations have found talent integration difficult. ITM is often described as “holy grail” and an “elusive dream.” The problem is not the software; the problem is that software can only do so much. Here are three other essentials to achieve talent integration.
1. An integration mindset
Some people like their silos. Cooperation and collaboration do not always come easily for us humans. ITM suites provide a new wealth of data, but if leaders and managers are not sold on the value of integrating, all of the data in the world won’t make it happen.
Leaders must adopt an integration mindset. And the way to change minds is through meaningful conversation, which is the second essential for integrating talent management.
The benefits of integrated talent management (ITM) include streamlined talent processes, cost savings, and improvements in collecting and sharing talent data.
2. Meaningful conversation
Cooperation and collaboration require conversations. Organizations must not only integrate talent data; they must also unite their leaders and team members. Leaders who are sharing data must connect with each other. Managers across an organization must have ongoing meaningful conversations about strategy and work.
The good news is that a new wave of business social networks have emerged to facilitate meaningful workplace conversations. On such networks, team members from across the hall and around the world can collaborate about work in real-time.
3. Return on investment (ROI)
Finally, ROI is a huge issue in talent management.
ITM promises big dividends but requires a major investment in technology, as well as the always difficult work of changing mindsets and processes. When a company introduces its first phase of ITM, it must be able to prove ROI, or else continuing integration efforts will hit a brick wall.
Proving ROI is another reason business social networks are invaluable. The skillrater social platform enables leaders and managers to communicate about victories and challenges of the integration process. The victories reinforce the value of the change effort.
The challenges, when shared socially, present opportunities for leaders to work together to find solutions. By providing a platform for meaningful conversations, business social solutions create qualitative feedback that supports the ITM effort.
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.”
Las Vegas, NV (PRWEB) October 08, 2014
Skillrater.com named a Human Resource Executive Magazine Top Product Winner at its HR Technology Conference. For more than 25 years, Human Resource Executive Magazine has recognized excellence and innovation in the HR vendor community with its Top HR Products.
Human Resource Executive has been evaluating HR products and conducting this competition for 26 years," explained David Shadovitz, editor of Human Resource Executive. "Our goal has always been to identify products and services that clearly offer value to the HR community while demonstrating innovation. Skillrater provides one of the newest and most innovative products we have seen in performance appraisals combining a strong coaching process and an employee and employer-led anytime 360-degree assessment, with less rating to reduce rater fatigue, the use of positive dialogue in the form of appreciation and advice, and social threaded discussion to enable employees and all stakeholders help each other get better over time. It empowers and trains employees to become coaches to each other and investors in their own careers thus creating a self-sustaining learning organization."
The HR Technology Conference is the world's largest Expo of HR technology products and services - many vendors choose to announce their latest products for the first time at HR Tech. Executives and business owners compare and contrast the latest solutions from leading vendors in every category, as well as start-ups.
Each year the Conference hosts the foremost industry experts, thought leaders from major and emerging HR consultancies, software vendors, senior HR executives, HR Generalists, HR Systems leaders and more.
"I am truly honored to receive this award from the prestigious Human Resource Executive HR Technology Conference. I appreciate HR Executive's validation and research behind the award, as well as the care they put into understanding skillrater's essence and purpose. Thank you, HR Executive for honoring and recognizing us, on behalf of the developers, and 10's of thousands of hours of hard work completed by the skillrater staff." said, Louis Carter, the lead developer and concept innovator of skillrater and CEO of Best Practice Institute, Inc.
Skillrater is a seamless, enhanced performance appraisal platform that enables a person to visibly meld and integrate all of their skills, rating their proficiencies and advice recommended by peers and stakeholders within projects and creating new social circles on the fly across all of their company, clients, social networks, and creating a unique ecosystem within each client. Skillrater allows effortless communication and collaboration with company and client contacts. Skillrater's managed collaboration promotes more productivity as well as innovation and unique problem solving. Skillrater is on the leading edge of providing a more satisfied and productive workplace. Skillrater allows management to develop a personal objective data profile for each employee, which can be used to identify top performers in specific skill sets.
"Skillrater is a great tool. Leaders and managers are going to fall in love with it. There is no better way for organizational leaders to track talent data. Skillrater gives you a simple way to request receive feedback on what you are doing, while building an in-house social network to discuss the feedback. The ability to customize Skillrater around the desired competencies of your organization is brilliant."
Focus on Leadership Development in Globally Dispersed Workforces
"Our goal is to create a social circle within an organization that is focused on helping employees coach each other improve their skills and improve performance," Carter said.
Studies have shown 360-degree feedback is an effective way to help workers identify their strengths and weaknesses, including blind spots in which they need further development. Skillrater's convenient online platform, along with the addition of research in neuroscience regarding the effects of positive dialogue on performance, makes Skillrater a powerful leadership development tool for dispersed or collective learning environments.
Skillrater Benefits for Corporate Users
For senior talent management executives, Skillrater provides a remarkable way to track the job performance, skill sets and leadership development of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of employees spread out across a national or global workforce. For years, connecting the right employees with the right tasks has been the elusive aim of talent management. With Skillrater, when a particular skill set is needed for a particular task, a manager can search on those specific skills, and then read fresh feedback on recent projects, including not only numerical ratings but subsequent comments and discussion. That is rich, valuable talent data, which Skillrater puts at executives' fingertips.
Managers from different divisions may customize their own groups to have specific skills or competencies that are important for success on-the-job. Users can select these group skills when requesting ratings to get targeted feedback that meets the need of the department head or head of leadership development. The ability to customize skills is critical to an organization's success, making this a key feature of Skillrater's enterprise membership level. Employees, stakeholders and even customers are able to have continuous threaded discussions within the enabling them to become coaches to each other and the organization. This creates a self-sustaining learning organization.
VPs of leadership development have the ability to set up action learning groups with specific action items. Group members work together online to achieve goals and get ratings on the skills that will make them most successful on the action learning project. Changes in behavior and actual project results may be tracked over time, proving the ROI of the leadership development program.
ABOUT BEST PRACTICE INSTITUTE
Best Practice Institute is an award-winning leadership development center, think tank, peer network, research institute and online learning portal with more than 10,000 corporate and individual members around the world. Corporate members include Walmart, Tyco, Pfizer, Hilton Hotels Worldwide, Humana, Novelis, BP and many more of the world's top corporations. BPI is based in West Palm Beach, FL, and is on the web athttp://www.bestpracticeinstitute.org. BPI is ranked as one of the top ten "Best in Leadership Development" by Leadership Excellence Magazine.
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.
Keep in mind that you are not just an employee within the company in which you are trying to get the role of CLO. You are an internal change champion, bringing together various interests, strategies, and needs. The plan in which you co-create and execute will decide for itself whether or not you get and/or keep your CLO position.
1. Hold Powerful Talent Conversations. The number one thing you must do straight away is have a talent solutions conversation with your CEO and top team. BPI Senior Executive Board members are CLOs and Chief Talent Officers who co-create talent strategies with their organizations. The first step to becoming a Senior Executive Board member is to clearly state the talent/learning plan that you have put into place with your top team and CEO. It is essential that the CLO co-create with their CEO, top team, and various key stakeholders within the organization. If you have any C-level position other than CEO, you will need to be a trusted advisor, colleague, and servant leader to your CEO first and foremost. The most successful CLO’s I know have provided sound, results-driven learning plans to their CEO that align strongly to her/his strategic vision and goals.
2. Co-create and Connect to the Business Strategy. For instance if the company is entering into new emerging markets and requires international exposure, don’t propose a plan to send your leaders to an Executive MBA program and expect great results. Instead, co-create a plan with executives and design team volunteers with the validation of your peers who are other CLOs and Heads of Talent. Co-create actionable and experiential learning that can be measured and translated into metrics driven work to achieve entry into these new markets. Utilize advanced methods of Organization Development like open space, future search, whole system transformation, and Human Interaction Laboratory methods to make this change happen.
3. Ensure Metrics. Back up your co-created programs with key measurement tools that enable employees to show positive measurable change over time durectly related to your specific efforts. Tools like this are forward thinking and encourage collaboration and discussion among employees. And, most importantly they will help your programs keep running because they will show real change metrics over time.
4. Validate. Your peers and other CEOs will validate your work for you so you can bring it back home and prove you have weight behind your plans. BPI provides peer validation through its Senior Executive Board clinics where other CLO’s, CEOs and Heads of Talent meet, share advice, and validate their strategies and plans for execution.
Louis Carter is CEO of Best Practice Institute
New Social Network Promises ‘Future of 360’
Skillrater.com, an online social network that launched today, makes it easy for members to request work performance ratings from overseers, co-workers and direct reports across a domestic and global workforce.
“This is the future of 360-degree assessment and social learning,” said the network’s creator, Louis Carter, CEO of Best Practice Institute.
“Get rated. Get better. Get noticed,” says Skillrater.com’s website, which describes the new social network as “the world’s first rating, networking and feedback tool on a social platform.”
Executives, employees and entrepreneurs who have already been friended, linked and tweeted can now get feedback and rating on their skill sets and work at Skillrater.com. Individuals may join the Skillrater social network at no cost; corporations may purchase a premium or enterprise membership to use Skillrater as an in-house platform for feedback, talent management and social networking.
Best Practice Institute is a leadership development center, think tank, research institute and online learning portal with more than 10,000 corporate and individual members. BPI’s corporate members include Walmart, Bank of America, GlaxoSmithKline, Hilton Hotels Worldwide, and several others of the world’s top corporations. With the popularity of 360-degree feedback and considering BPI’s built-in client base, it is reasonable to expect Skillrater.com to quickly become a popular talent management tool in the corporate world.
The Next Thing in 360 Assessments and Corporate Social Networking
“I want to bring a revolution to 360 so that organizations become more open and transparent, and driven by the desire for employees to request feedback on their competencies/skills and activities they execute on a daily basis” said Carter, BPI’s founder and a social-organizational psychologist.
The world of work is becoming more open and transparent. “A new IBM study of 1709 Chief Executive Officers from 64 countries and 18 industries worldwide reveals that CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century” .
Employees using skillrater engage in conversations and threaded discussions around improving their activities at work. Instead of hiding feedback from employees, employees may receive immediate correction of negatively reinforcing workplace habits directly from their bosses, peers, and customers. Employees may continue the feedback process in a threaded discussion to receive deeper advice and help from executive coaches or other members of the team. Repeating this process will show measurable changes in behavior and actions over time for your organization, as well as show patterns for the changes that need to me made on an individual, team, and organization level. The employee requests feedback of others directly, so that a culture of accountability and feedback is encouraged. Instead of “big brother/sister” HR forcing feedback of competencies and workplace performance, employees take ownership for creating their own culture of transparency so they may show their progress toward growth.
One study found that as many as 90 percent of all Fortune 500 companies use 360-degree feedback with their employees. In a 360 assessment, feedback is sought from all directions of an employee’s circle: overseers, peers, direct reports, and sometimes even external sources, such as customers and suppliers.
Skillrater brings several innovations to the 360-degree process to make the technique easier to use and to increase the tool’s beneficial results. Features include:
- Ratings can be requested at any time by any individual, and the individual determines who sees the results.
- Feedback is requested on a specific project or activity, which provides a valuable context for the feedback. “How did I do, and how can I do better?”
- Skillrater.com occurs 100 percent online. It provides a creative way to easily collect multiple feedback and assemble all of that information in a format that is easy to digest.
- Ratings are available immediately to the person being rated. The lengthy delays of many feedback techniques are eliminated.
- Only positive feedback is sought, resulting in more honest responses.
“Skillrater is a great tool. Leaders and managers are going to fall in love with it,” said the world’s leading executive coach and bestselling author Marshall Goldsmith. “There is no better way for organizational leaders to track talent data. Skillrater gives you a simple way to request receive feedback on what you are doing, while building an in-house social network to discuss the feedback. The ability to customize Skillrater around the desired competencies of your organization is brilliant.”
Focus on Leadership Development in Globally Dispersed Workforces
Most importantly, Carter said, Skillrater provides a social network through which members can springboard from quantitative ratings to qualitative discussions that make the feedback truly transformative. This is especially beneficial for dispersed workforces where consistent face-to-face communication is costly to accomplish.”
“Our goal is to create a social network within an organization that is focused on helping employees improve their skills and improve performance,” Carter said. “Skillrater is not primarily about promotion and pay decisions, it’s about leadership development and positive behavioral change throughout a national or global workforce.”
Studies have shown 360-degree feedback is an effective way to help workers identify their strengths and weaknesses, including blind spots in which they need further development. Skillrater’s convenient online platform, along with the addition of a social networking dimension, makes Skillrater a powerful leadership development for dispersed or collective learning environments.
After corporate clients learn their way around all the bells and whistles of Skillrater’s multi-rater feedback tool, Carter said, they will move on to appreciate the richness of the in-house social network, creating a dispersed learning environment in which ongoing leadership development and action learning is cultivated within domestic or global workforces.
Skillrater Benefits for Individual Users
Individuals may join Skillrater.com for free and choose up to five skills upon which to be rated. Top executives, mid-level rising stars and lower-level workers with an eye on advancement may all use Skillrater to request feedback and map their own course of development. Requesting a Skillrater rating is an excellent way for an individual to confirm satisfaction with a completed project or identify additional steps needed to achieve satisfaction. Using Skillrater, a worker can demonstrate to higher-ups one’s desire to perform well and also document tangible improvement.
An individual who has acquired several ratings on one’s Skillrater profile and has made those ratings public may catch the attention of employers on the search for talent. Skillrater will become a go-to destination for talent recruitment. Other social networks provide an individual’s name, personal background and employment history, but Skillrater provides rubber-meets-the-road details of how an individual has been evaluated by co-workers, clients and customers on actual projects.
Skillrater Benefits for Corporate Users
Companies may purchase an enterprise membership, giving executives an unparalleled tool for talent management and leadership development. Enterprise membership enables companies to enroll 1,000 users and place them in 20 groups or divisions.
For senior talent management executives, Skillrater provides a remarkable way to track the job performance, skill sets and leadership development of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of employees spread out across a national or global workforce. For years, connecting the right employees with the right tasks has been the elusive aim of talent management. With Skillrater, when a particular skill set is needed for a particular task, a manager can search on those specific skills, and then read fresh feedback on recent projects, including not only numerical ratings but subsequent comments and discussion. That is rich, valuable talent data, which Skillrater puts at executives’ fingertips.
Managers from different divisions may customize their own groups to have specific skills or competencies that are important for success on-the-job. Users can select these group skills when requesting ratings to get targeted feedback that meets the need of the department head or head of leadership development. The ability to customize skills is critical to an organization’s success, making this a key feature of Skillrater’s enterprise membership level.
VPs of leadership development have the ability to set up action learning groups with specific action items. Group members work together online to achieve goals and get ratings on the skills that will make them most successful on the action learning project. Changes in behavior and actual project results may be tracked over time, proving the ROI of the leadership development program.
How Does Skillrater Work?
Joining Skillrater is easy and painless. An individual can create a Skillrater profile in a few moments or import one’s profile and skill set from LinkedIn.
A Skillrater member may request a rating from anybody on anything. It really is that simple. The user simply clicks the “Request Rating” button, specifies the task or activity for which one seeks a rating and the specific skills on which feedback is desired.
Then the member sends off the rating requests. If the desired rater is already a Skillrater.com member, requesting a rating is just one additional click. If not, the user enters the desired rater’s email address, and a message is sent requesting the rating and providing the necessary link.
After feedback has been received, Skillrater notifies the user. Results include a spider chart, an easy-to-understand graphical interpretation of how the feedback lines up with one’s self-assessment. Users continue to share advice and further clarification via a discussion thread to continue the social learning and coaching experience online.
Providing feedback has long been considered to be an essential skill for leaders. As they strive to achieve the goals of the organization, employees need to know how they are doing. They need to know if their performance is in line with what their leaders expect. They need to learn what they have done well and what they need to change. Traditionally, this information has been communicated in the form of “downward feedback” from leaders to their employees. Just as employees need feedback from leaders, leaders can benefit from feedback from their employees. Employees can provide useful input on the effectiveness of procedures and processes and as well as input to managers on their leadership effectiveness. This “upward feedback” has become increasingly common with the advent of 360 degree multi-rater assessments.
But there is a fundamental problem with all types of feedback: it focuses on the past, on what has already occurred—not on the infinite variety of opportunities that can happen in the future. As such, feedback can be limited and static, as opposed to expansive and dynamic.
Over the past several years, I have observed more than thirty thousand leaders as they participated in a fascinating experiential exercise. In the exercise, participants are each asked to play two roles. In one role, they are asked provide feedforward —that is, to give someone else suggestions for the future and help as much as they can. In the second role, they are asked to accept feedforward—that is, to listen to the suggestions for the future and learn as much as they can. The exercise typically lasts for 10-15 minutes, and the average participant has 6-7 dialogue sessions. In the exercise participants are asked to:
• Pick one behavior that they would like to change. Change in this behavior should make a significant, positive difference in their lives.
• Describe this behavior to randomly selected fellow participants. This is done in one-on-one dialogues. It can be done quite simply, such as, “I want to be a better listener.”
• Ask for feedforward—for two suggestions for the future that might help them achieve a positive change in their selected behavior. If participants have worked together in the past, they are not allowed to give ANY feedback about the past. They are only allowed to give ideas for the future.
• Listen attentively to the suggestions and take notes. Participants are not allowed to comment on the suggestions in any way. They are not allowed to critique the suggestions or even to make positive judgmental statements, such as, “That’s a good idea.”
• Thank the other participants for their suggestions.
• Ask the other persons what they would like to change.
• Provide feedforward - two suggestions aimed at helping the other person change.
• Say, “You are welcome.” when thanked for the suggestions. The entire process of both giving and receiving feedforward usually takes about two minutes.
• Find another participant and keep repeating the process until the exercise is stopped.
When the exercise is finished, I ask participants to provide one word that best describes their reaction to this experience. I ask them to complete the sentence, “This exercise was …”. The words provided are almost always extremely positive, such as “great”, “energizing”, “useful”, or “helpful.” One of the most commonly-mentioned words is “fun!”
What is the last word that comes to mind when we consider any feedback activity? Fun!
Eleven Reasons to Try FeedForward
Participants are then asked why this exercise is seen as fun and helpful as opposed to painful, embarrassing, or uncomfortable. Their answers provide a great explanation of why feedforward can often be more useful than feedback as a developmental tool.
1. We can change the future. We can’t change the past. Feedforward helps people envision and focus on a positive future, not a failed past. Athletes are often trained using feedforward. Racecar drivers are taught to, “Look at the road ahead, not at the wall.” Basketball players are taught to envision the ball going in the hoop and to imagine the perfect shot. By giving people ideas on how they can be even more successful (as opposed to visualizing a failed past), we can increase their chances of achieving this success in the future.
2. It can be more productive to help people learn to be “right,” than prove they were “wrong.”Negative feedback often becomes an exercise in “let me prove you were wrong.” This tends to produce defensiveness on the part of the receiver and discomfort on the part of the sender. Even constructively delivered feedback is often seen as negative as it necessarily involves a discussion of mistakes, shortfalls, and problems. Feedforward, on the other hand, is almost always seen as positive because it focuses on solutions – not problems.
3. Feedforward is especially suited to successful people. Successful people like getting ideas that are aimed at helping them achieve their goals. They tend to resist negative judgment. We all tend to accept feedback that is consistent with the way we see ourselves. We also tend to reject or deny feedback that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves. Successful people tend to have a very positive self-image. I have observed many successful executives respond to (and even enjoy) feedforward. I am not sure that these same people would have had such a positive reaction to feedback.
4. Feedforward can come from anyone who knows about the task. It does not require personal experience with the individual. One very common positive reaction to the previously described exercise is that participants are amazed by how much they can learn from people that they don’t know! For example, if you want to be a better listener, almost any fellow leader can give you ideas on how you can improve. They don’t have to know you. Feedback requires knowing about the person. Feedforward just requires having good ideas for achieving the task.
5. People do not take feedforward as personally as feedback. In theory, constructive feedback is supposed to “focus on the performance, not the person”. In practice, almost all feedback is taken personally (no matter how it is delivered). Successful people’s sense of identity is highly connected with their work. The more successful people are, the more this tends to be true. It is hard to give a dedicated professional feedback that is not taken personally. Feedforward cannot involve a personal critique, since it is discussing something that has not yet happened! Positive suggestions tend to be seen as objective advice – personal critiques are often viewed as personal attacks.
6. Feedback can reinforce personal stereotyping and negative self-fulfilling prophecies. Feedforward can reinforce the possibility of change. Feedback can reinforce the feeling of failure. How many of us have been “helped” by a spouse, significant other, or friend, who seems to have a near-photographic memory of our previous “sins” that they share with us in order to point out the history of our shortcomings. Negative feedback can be used to reinforce the message, “this is just the way you are”. Feedforward is based on the assumption that the receiver of suggestions can make positive changes in the future.
7. Face it! Most of us hate getting negative feedback, and we don’t like to give it. I have reviewed summary 360 degree feedback reports for over 50 companies. The items, “provides developmental feedback in a timely manner” and “encourages and accepts constructive criticism” both always score near the bottom on co-worker satisfaction with leaders. Traditional training does not seem to make a great deal of difference. If leaders got better at providing feedback every time the performance appraisal forms were “improved”, most should be perfect by now! Leaders are not very good at giving or receiving negative feedback. It is unlikely that this will change in the near future.
8. Feedforward can cover almost all of the same “material” as feedback. Imagine that you have just made a terrible presentation in front of the executive committee. Your manager is in the room. Rather than make you “relive” this humiliating experience, your manager might help you prepare for future presentations by giving you suggestions for the future. These suggestions can be very specific and still delivered in a positive way. In this way your manager can “cover the same points” without feeling embarrassed and without making you feel even more humiliated.
9. Feedforward tends to be much faster and more efficient than feedback. An excellent technique for giving ideas to successful people is to say, “Here are four ideas for the future. Please accept these in the positive spirit that they are given. If you can only use two of the ideas, you are still two ahead. Just ignore what doesn’t make sense for you.” With this approach almost no time gets wasted on judging the quality of the ideas or “proving that the ideas are wrong”. This “debate” time is usually negative; it can take up a lot of time, and it is often not very productive. By eliminating judgment of the ideas, the process becomes much more positive for the sender, as well as the receiver. Successful people tend to have a high need for self-determination and will tend to accept ideas that they “buy” while rejecting ideas that feel “forced” upon them.
10. Feedforward can be a useful tool to apply with managers, peers, and team members.Rightly or wrongly, feedback is associated with judgment. This can lead to very negative – or even career-limiting – unintended consequences when applied to managers or peers. Feedforward does not imply superiority of judgment. It is more focused on being a helpful “fellow traveler” than an “expert”. As such it can be easier to hear from a person who is not in a position of power or authority. An excellent team building exercise is to have each team member ask, “How can I better help our team in the future?” and listen to feedforward from fellow team members (in one-on-one dialogues.)
11. People tend to listen more attentively to feedforward than feedback. One participant is the feedforward exercise noted, “I think that I listened more effectively in this exercise than I ever do at work!” When asked why, he responded, “Normally, when others are speaking, I am so busy composing a reply that will make sure that I sound smart – that I am not fully listening to what the other person is saying I am just composing my response. In feedforward the only reply that I am allowed to make is ‘thank you’. Since I don’t have to worry about composing a clever reply – I can focus all of my energy on listening to the other person!”
In summary, the intent of this article is not to imply that leaders should never give feedback or that performance appraisals should be abandoned. The intent is to show how feedforward can often be preferable to feedback in day-to-day interactions. Aside from its effectiveness and efficiency, feedforward can make life a lot more enjoyable. When managers are asked, “How did you feel the last time you received feedback?” their most common responses are very negative. When managers are asked how they felt after receiving feedforward, they reply that feedforward was not only useful, it was also fun!Quality communication—between and among people at all levels and every department and division—is the glue that holds organizations together. By using feedforward—and by encouraging others to use it—leaders can dramatically improve the quality of communication in their organizations, ensuring that the right message is conveyed, and that those who receive it are receptive to its content. The result is a much more dynamic, much more open organization—one whose employees focus on the promise of the future rather than dwelling on the mistakes of the past.
Marshall Goldsmith is the million-selling author of the New York Times bestsellers MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – the Harold Longman Award winner for Business Book of the Year.