Salesforce’s acquisition of Rypple will be the beginning of a new explosion in these peer performance apps (social performance software); it’s not hard to predict that existing enterprise social software suites will either create their own, or acquire small start-ups (now’s a good time for software entrepeneurs to make some potential money). Whether the large enterprise social software suites agree with the effectiveness of these tools or not doesn’t really matter, as they need to keep competitive by not allowing the competition to offer something they don’t have. Hence often something becomes the norm not because it’s a must have purpose-based innovation or fills a pre-existing need; but instead just because everyone’s doing it…or cashing in.
But this post isn’t about this high level view, instead it’s on one particular feature that these peer performance vendors offer; and that’s "recognition/thanks/kudos/recommendation".
For organisations already using social networking tools, I wonder whether it’s going to be effective introducing yet another more specific-based social network. I wonder if instead these functions will be incorporated as new features in existing tools.
But first let’s establish what they are about, lets examine their feature set. Most of them are about changing the performance review process to an ongoing thing, rather than annually…and for it to happen socially online.
The players in the market that I know of are Rypple, Worksimple, Coworkers, Achievers, Saba and now an IBM partner application…get ready for more (eg. Atlassian), especially from Talent Management vendors.
The first time I recall something to this effect was LinkedIn Recommendations Some mildy related tools are Happiily and Niko by Socialcast (which are actually more mood based apps) and Evaluat3.me (this is more a survey about you)
The main feature set of social performance suites are:
- Social Goals (setting objectives, and viewing the status of them on our profile) eg. 20% market growth…what a great way for others to know your progess and achievement
- Performance Summary
- Recognition (Kudos/Thanks/Praise)
View the Rypple features page for an explanation on “social performance”, and how they have created a more meaningful and engaging system that is more than performance appraisal/review, in the way that it’s not so much a review, but coaching goal achievement as it happens (by both leads and peers)…much more transparent, and purposeful.
For the focus of this post the feature I’m most interested in is peer/lead recognition (thanks, praise, kudos, recommendations…) For example Rypple Thanks (read and watch the video).
Then there are existing social network vendors have have incorporated thanks/praise/kudos as a feature eg. Yammer and a few others. Note that thanks/praise/kudos is only one feature of Rypple and the like. Yammer is different than Rypple, but they do have a few overlapping features. Read and watch the video on Yammer Praise.
ADDED: Socialcast also have a “thanks” feature.
Recognise how well I use my social network to generate quality productivity
In a past post, Measuring employee’s on the quality of their work and gifting; based on how well they utilise their online network, I focused on the need of an observation technique where we can acknowledge the productivity employees generate from being socially active online within their organisation. Firstly, for the direct reason of acknowledging their good work-and how it came to being-which needs to be recognised, and secondly that feedback, acknowledgement and recognition are positive conditions for people to continue participating and adopt new ways of working (in this case online social tools).
Please read my post as it quotes from some intelligent and experienced people in this industry, and gets to the heart of the matter of where current organisational design clashes with the cultural shift that begins to take place with the addition of working with social tools (ie. like we shape tools, tools shape society). Especially in relation to being measured on your individual contributions; rather than how well you used your network as sources, or even collaborators on your deliverable…and also the time required to participate, build and nuture relationships in order to have a valuable network in the first place.
Just quickly, I should get kudos for knowing the right people to give me advice in order to churn out a quality deliverable. Why? Because this sends a signal to people that connecting to the talent of others is what we are about, we didn’t just hire you for your individual intelligence. One step further is me actually getting people I’ve sourced to contribute to the deliverable; this should have no impact on how I’m measured for individual contributions, in fact I should get more kudos for the same reason above. If we need to hire a team to do a job in the organisation we scout around in an attempt to source the best available internal experts. Well I’m just doing the same thing for my tasks.
I’ll re-quote Oscar Berg which will give you the gist of the post:
A paradox for employees today is that they really need to connect with and collaborate more with more people, and strengthen their personal networks if they are to deliver better results and strengthen our their positions. One problem they are facing when doing this is that most current incentive models do not reward employees helping their colleagues, unless there is a direct and measurable return on their contributions. Another problem is that many organizations fail at making the contributions that employees do outside of their own team visible, and thus if fails to recognize them. These problems put people in a kind of deadlock position. During uncertain times, most people will simply do what becomes visible and recognized by those who evaluate them, their managers. They will most likely also most be asked or commended by their managers to do so, because their managers are in a similar position as they will be judged by their managers on the visible contributions from the team they are managing (and so it goes on, all the way to the top).
Wow, that’s a great piece!
A resume that’s alive
So how do we change this syndrome?
- not recognising the help and work you do beyond your team, or even within your team (if you are not allowed to spend time in your internal social network, and help others in the first place, then you have a bigger problem…which is what the post linked above is all about…in addition to the adoption obstacle of not being acknowledged for knowing who the best people are to source and help to create a more quality deliverable)
- people only doing what’s going to be visible; rather than what’s best for the business
I once tweeted:
Before we visited the Rolodex, now we live in the Rolodex
…this is my reference to Twitter, Facebook, Yammer and the like. I think the same can be for social work performance
Before we had a static Resume, now we we live in our Resume
…this is a reference to our profile page and how it lists the work we are doing as it happens, comments, likes, recognition, bio links (all this shows off our expertise, respect, dedication, competency, character, passion, etc…what more do you want raw anecdotes of a person in action…and that are continuously updated).
Now this took me away from other work; but I thought it was valuable to work on this. From the perspective of my HTML contact; well his role is not a webdesigner, although he does utilise these skills in his role. In this case because I knew he has these skills I asked if he could utilise them on a task that has nothing to do with him, but is entirely based on the respect and history he has for me (and on top of this he was busy with his own stuff)
So here I am going beyond the call of duty within my team task, and here my colleague is performing work for free, on top of his already busy workload.
If we did this work observably online on a social network like Yammer, I’m sure people would of noticed our hard work, dedication and beyond the call of duty attitude…indirectly we become known for our skills and qualities. The double-edged sword is this could become a burden…I say this because this same colleague was helping out another trusted colleague of ours on a task also not within his portfolio…we are starting to call this "moonlighting"…and he’s I must say, a professional "moonlighter". Anyway, it turns out we did this work in email, so no-one really knows we did this unless we told them, or they saw the finished product (which they still won’t know who was behind it). I told my boss about this work, and he was OK with it, and said good work. But there’s a better way that could have more impact or impression on my peers and boss, and also fulfill my natural human need for a job well done (and everything that cascades from that being displayed in my profile page as part of my capabilities and service as you would see on a resume…only I’m not telling you about it, you are seeing it in action). The task owner also continually thanked me in email as we did the job, and then at the end of the job he couldn’t thank me enough…he mentioned that he owes me a beer or 5
We have the first part down ie. we can now work observably online where people can see the work we do as it happens. ie. not only the work, but the quality of our participation and how we are dedicated to the organisation at large. But what if you weren’t looking, these conversations roll into the archives quite quickly.
Now a more formal way for peers and leads to recognise your work is to issue you kudos/thanks/praise, etc…this is not just done as a comment, but it’s an actual feature eg a type of status update. Your profile page would also be the place that shows off your kudos/thanks/praise. Surely this is DIY career development, and gives you drive to keep doing what you’re doing ie participating…which is a bonus for social tool product managers as it helps with adoption.
Now take a breather…as the next part is important.
Let’s not start gamifying this and create a leaderboard and badges based on levels for all the kudos/thanks/praise you accumulate, and then have this as the basis for decision-making like resource allocation, expertise or which employees to retain based on their badge level. NOTE: Some vendors use descriptive badges, whereas I’m talking about badges that represent an earned expertise level (which could be based on false praise, and invaluable participation…better known as "gaming the system"). Let’s make sure we don’t let the numbers make decisions for us. Why? Because some people that deserve more kudos than others may not have them as the people they helped out haven’t adopted the online social tools in which to issue kudos/praise/thanks…maybe someone with lots of kudos/praise/thanks is less valuable than the next person; but the numbers don’t tell it that way, and what they also don’t tell is that person is gaming the system with others to accumulate kudos/praise/thanks. Also there is valuable, generous and altruistic work being done offline, on the phone, in email, in IM that will miss out on being recognised, due to not being visible…I have posted an anecdote on this before, here it is again:
Someone mentioned today that they hope our organisation doesn’t measure value based on just online communities. That there is so much community activity done on the phone and in meetings that brings value to the business that may not be known about. The concern is that people that are visible are going to get recognition over others that are more offline workers, who may even contribute more value.
When we start basing decisions on badges we are forgoing badgless, but equally capable people. I don’t want to get into gamification in this post, but what once had immediate purpose and respect (recognition and praise), when quantified or turned into a fetish (accumulated into a total and turned into an entity "the badge"), can lead to competition and gaming the system (doing it simply to gain points, and "it" may be not really valuable stuff we need to pay attention to); it may become more of a tail wagging a dog scenario. The system just becomes a whore, or sold out just like film and music has become (SIDENOTE - luckily web 2.0 allows us to enjoy the honest and more true to artform music/film generated from the long tail)
So the thing here is that as long as there is no prize, people are less likely to game the system. Instead the accumulation of praises and kudos are just another aspect to consider when making decisions about recognition, finding experts, bonuses, promotions; rather than the sole aspect. This is contrary to what some in the Dachis group say (like Larry Irons, I was surprised to hear these words from that crowd):
…wouldn’t the decision to promote one of two equally skilled employees would be just a little simpler if one had five more “badges” than the other?
The new 3rd party IBM Connections app called "kudos" just doesn’t sit well with me (mind you I say this hastily without reading too deep or playing with it). In addition to what has been talked about above, they go one step further and award points for participating (need I mention Dan Pink’s book or psychological research on self-determination.
Kudos Badges works by tracking metrics around what users do within IBM Connections. For example when a user posts a Status Update, they get a Kudos Point. When they create a blog, they might get 5 Kudos Points. When someone recommends a file that someone else created, they get 1 Kudos Point and the receiver of the recommendation gets 3 Kudos Points. There are hundreds of potential actions within IBM Connections and Kudos Metrics enables us to track them and reward users for their behaviour. Kudos Metrics are used to award both Kudos Leaderboard points as well as award Kudos Badges. All of the metrics can be customised and you can even create your own metrics and badges. Kudos Badges comes with a heap of predefined metrics and badges to make it easy to get started. They have been designed to not only reward behaviour but also to encourage users to take further action and educate them on the broader capabilities of IBM Connections. In addition to metrics within IBM Connections, Kudos Badges enables you to create metrics for actions and behaviour in external systems. These external metrics can then be used to award custom badges as well as contribute to a users leaderboard score and rank. For example you may have a sales force system that you want to encourage specific behaviour. Or maybe HR Performance Objectives that you want to reward users for achieving. The options are endless!
It’s all good intended, but I fear it may lead to gaming the system, participation just for the sake of it…it’s old skool km, and not sustainable. Sorry I didn’t want this to be a post about gamification, but obviously gamification starts to bleed or take centre stage in some vendor offerings. What I can see happening is that organisations will get lazy on intrinsic motivations, and just rely on game mechanics.
Speaking of IBM this type of participation-based "pointsification" is one of the factor that did harm to one of their internal social networking sites "beehive" (socialblue)…so indeed we have to becareful of something poisoning the system.
This presentation by Rypple tells me they are very different than this and understand the balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and that intrinsic motivation needs to be the lead singer.
I may do a follow up post on gamification since this post has led us that way…I could keep going on this post about point systems and knowledge markets for sharing knowledge and collaboration, but I’ll elaborate on how gamification is not the answer for that particular context
Always good to finish with some philosophy by Dave Snowden:
Reward systems, linking social obligations to targets and promotion criteria are the single most stupid thing that anyone can do in KM or any other system reliant on social interaction. People will always share with people in the context of proven need, but to share in anticipation of that need will not happen. All that happens if you create a reward mechanism is that people game the system. Its another excuse (like the culture was wrong) for an ill conceived approach