Managers frequently cite completing performance appraisals as one of their least favorite tasks and that is often an understatement. But quietly there is a movement afoot to “consumerize” business software. This means that software is being designed and tested by “user experience teams” with the goal of making software “intuitive,” engaging and, importantly, free of training.
This consumerization of business software, a term coined by Gartner, Inc, will have a tremendous impact on our employees. Increasingly, employees on-the-job will come to expect software to be as easy to use as creating a profile on Facebook or an account on Ebay. They will no longer tolerate training courses or training manuals that go through endless “how-to-use” scenarios. Instead, they will expect an “IPod” experience — elegant, fun and engaging. Take a moment to think about the software your department uses, can you say this? Often the norm is one where employees endure lengthy training or spend hours poring over reference manuals only to be more confused than when they first downloaded the program.
One company leading this movement is SuccessFactors, a company providing performance and talent management solutions to over 3 million employees in 1,750 companies. Looking at the current solutions and those about to be released, it seems clear such sites as Facebook, Ebay and Amazon have inspired them. The latest offering of SuccessFactors, called SuccessDirectory, is a Web 2.0-based collaboration solution that enhances a company’s Employee Profile section in its Performance Management solution to include social media technologies like tagging and social networking.
Let’s assume for the moment that you work on a global team and collaborate everyday with team members across the globe that you have never met in person. Wouldn’t it be great if you could create a profile here where you could share your educational background, work history, post a photo of your choosing, list your professional training, languages you currently speak, ones you want to learn over next few years, books and music you enjoy, hobbies and some information about your family? In fact, creating and sharing your profile, could really help you get to know your virtual team members better and may even lead to doing your job better.
Why will this movement be so important? Well, if you have a teenager, like I do, you know how they download new software or personalize their cell phone. Do they ever read the manual? Of course not. They just dive in and use it. With 80 million Net Gener’s about to enter the workforce these Millenials will demand their professional networking be similar to how they build their personal networks. But as the head of Talent Management or Learning at your organization, here are some questions I would ask a company touting an enhanced Performance Management solution:
- What has been the research with Millennials in using performance management solutions with a social networking component?
- Do these programs impact recruitment and retention of Millennials?
- Can anyone across the entire organization access my profile or is it like Facebook where you can grant access?
- What is the process for updating these internal profiles if the new data is outside taking a new course?
Let’s say I just learned a new language “on my own time” but updating this may be the last thing I remember to do. But if I know that updating my internal profile will impact my chances for promotion, then I am motivated to review my profile on monthly basis and update with every new skill, course, etc.
Share your experience with integrating social networking into performance management. What has been the reaction of your employees (especially the Millennials where social networking is in their DNA)?