Performance management has to become real time. Feedback has to be delivered immediately to managers to keep them engaged and motivated. One of the questions in the Gallup Q12, considered by many to be the gold standard as far as measuring employee engagement, is this one at #4.
"In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work"
Not the last year, not the last month, LAST 7 DAYS. And this is basis research that was published in the path-breaking book, First, Break All the Rules back in 1999. I would wager that 7 DAYS in the 90's is the equivalent of 1 DAY in 2011.
Younger managers need feedback all the time, even if it is just a pat on the back or a quick word. It is the equivalent of the 'Like' or 'Thumbs Up' icon that ubiquitous in cyberspace. Having been raised in a medium that's rich in instantaneous feedback, they yearn for the same in the workplace too.
Appraisal systems are going to have to become no different from a Facebook page. You post what you are working on. Your team members are listed as co-workers. As you make progress, your team members and supervisor keep sharing their feedback with you. At the end of each project, everyone on the team and your supervisor enter their ratings of your contribution, performance and behavioral competencies on the same system. The user can determine the degree of transparency in the system.
As alien as this might seem to a number of people, millennials actually prefer this route. Not very long ago I was trying desperately to schedule a face-to-face year-end discussion with one of my direct reports. It finally came to a situation where I had to ask him to cancel some travel plans so that we could sit down and have the conversation. At this point he suggested that we hang out on Google+ and do it. That cleared up a lot of cobwebs in my head and I discarded the dogma of face-to-face being the best way to do things. The world was changing and I had to change to remain relevant.
The solution is simple. Switch to a Facebook or LinkedIn interface to ensure continuous feedback and make this the backbone of all performance management processes.
- Do I know what is expected of me at work?
- Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
- At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
- In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
- Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
- Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
- At work, do my opinions seem to count?
- Does the mission/purpose of my organization make me feel like my work is important?
- Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
- Do I have a close friend at work?
- In the last six months, have I talked with someone about my progress?
- At work, have I had opportunities to learn and grow?
A social media inspired performance management system would enable a number of these pre-conditions for employee engagement very elegantly. (1) Expectations of each team member both from peers and well as the supervisor can be posted at the start of the day. (4) Recognition of the sort they are used to in terms of likes / messaging etc. can be delivered instantly and through the day. (7) Instant polls and online voting to arrive at a consensus decision will go a long way in ensuring opinions count. (9) Greater awareness and connectedness to co-workers will increase collective pride and ownership. (10) The same platform can be used to build friendships in pretty much the same way that social media enables. (12) Sharing of great work, new intelligence or training programs can rapidly raise the skill levels of the workforce.
Most organizations are today involved in the debate about whether they should allow Internet access or not at the workplace. A majority of the employees already have a hack around that! Rather than resist the direction in which the world in headed, it is best that you find a means to harness social media to benefit your organization. A performance management interface that is based on a portal that they are already familiar with navigating will make adoption much faster and usage will be much higher than most stand alone performance documentation systems that are currently the norm in organizations.