In our circles, everyone understands that social technologies are a must for marketing and communications. That bandwagon is pretty crowded these days. But I am still amazed at how slow these same people are to integrate social technology into management practices outside of the marketing department.
For example, why aren’t our performance reviews more social? Performance management processes are based mostly in static forms (documents and spreadsheets, both on paper and digitally) and in-person meetings. There’s nothing inherently wrong with forms and meetings, but to achieve the goal of valuable, skilled, growing, and successful employees, we need to move beyond those tools.
Technology is perfect for this task—it is great for real-time feedback (since we’re all on our computers so much of the time), and it does not require everyone to be in the same place at the same time, which increases the volume of feedback and communication (but without meetings!). Technology enables more sophisticated aggregation and sharing of the information as well.
For example, Small Improvements is a simple and elegant online tool that provides an online version of the annual performance review forms, but also provides ways for employees to set their own developmental goals and give feedback to others in the organization at any given moment. By collecting feedback from all sources in one (virtual) place, it makes for an easier annual review meeting, and it makes it much easier to give feedback all year round.
But don’t limit yourself to tools aimed specifically at that process. Mercanix, for example, offers a tool called Beacon that is designed to support implementation of strategic plans. It connects employees and teams with specific deadlines and schedules. Performance becomes more visible throughout the system better enabling feedback to be given in real time, across existing boundaries in the organization.
Jostle, as another example, is an online tool that supports building more effective cultures by making feedback easier to give and also by making visible the various connections between employees in organizations (beyond the formal organizational chart). This expands the number of feedback relationships based on who is actually working together to get things done, as opposed to only the relationships identified in the formal structure.
Start experimenting with social tools like this internally. Don’t be afraid to challenge the existing management processes (because they were likely invented in the early 1900s!). Embrace social technology beyond just marketing and communications. It’s a key piece of tapping into the true potential of social business.