I've been busy, more like procrastinating with starting this month's post. Let's chalk it up to the quarter-end rush. Regardless, I was about 24 hours away from missing my own self-imposed monthly writing requirement. So, here we go with June's post. Better late than never.
Staying with this month's theme, I recently had the opportunity to present at a customer event as a late fill-in. I was excited about the opportunity and began making last minute travel plans and getting up to speed on the content scheduled to be presented.
The subject for the event was continuous performance management and how traditional methods of performance management, such as the annual performance review, are outdated and failing employees in the workplace. Discussing current workplace trends such as the changing generational workforce, collaboration and the social enterprise, and the consumerization occurring within HR and IT, my goal was to demonstrate how these trends called for a newer, more modern approach to performance management. One that considered these trends and their importance in managing the performance of today's workforce.
One of the most visible trends is the increasing level of social collaboration occurring in the enterprise. Whether it's collaborating on goals, following an activity feed, or publically issuing praise, the enterprise is going social. And, it's full steam ahead. However, enterprise social networks and collaboration tools have typically been seen as those of newer generations and not those of traditionalists and baby boomers.
During my presentation I shared examples of how providing instant praise, collaborating on goals and sharing feedback, and having real-time access to team activity streams were the new face of performance management. Instead of having to recall what an employee did a month ago or even last quarter, relevant performance data was available on-demand and included as part of the employee's talent profile. This was an easy concept to drive home with those in attendance and everyone clearly saw the value in leveraging these new tools to collect and mange performance data.
However, most in attendance were like myself, a gen-x'er, and familiar with many of the enterprise social networks and collaboration tools currently available. The challenges, as some in attendance shared, with implementing these new processes were around adoption and engagement. The question I got asked, on more than one occasion, was how do we engage and drive adoption for these new tools and methods with our traditionalists and baby-boomers? What if we're not the most progressive organization and have slow or late adopters?
This really got me thinking. So, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on how you might be able to drive adoption and increase engagement with those in your organization who may be arriving a little late to the social enterprise.
First, conquer the generational divide in the workplace. Contrary to what you might believe, baby boomers are not all that different from your gen-x'ers and Millennials when it comes to technology. Just as today's generations are latching on to new devices, software tools and new forms of media, previous generations had similar experiences with the introduction of the personal computer and early Internet technologies.
In their book, The 2020 Workplace, co-authors Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd introduce us to a reverse mentoring program started at Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations and communications firm. Meister and Willyerd describe the program:
Young and/or ethnically diverse mentors across the United States volunteered and were assigned to senior team members based on where they might have had the greatest opportunity to understand another perspective.
Michele Chase, the managing director of world-wide human resources at Burson-Marsteller, notes that several of the young mentors have even helped their mentees setup Twitter or other social networking tools. Leveraging already existing working relationships, generations can learn from each other how they use social and collaborative tools in the workplace.
Second, demonstrate executive support and participation. Although the use of new tools and processes typically have their beginnings as grass-roots movements deep within the organization, inviting senior leadership "in" can help drive user adoption amongst management. For example, the CTO may be an early adopter of your enterprise collaboration tool, sharing updates about the Development team through this new channel instead of sending a lengthy email. The Chief Services Officer may be the first to leverage your organization's new performance management software with his or her own leadership team. This top-down approach to adoption can help solidify the use of these systems within the organization and encourage lagers to begin testing the waters, so to speak.
Finally, measure it. It's easy to communicate the soft or indirect benefits of collaboration such as less email or getting answers to questions faster. A goal of a new performance system may be to add more objectivity to the process. Although these are great desired outcomes, they're not exactly measurable. Begin sharing success stories; such as the percent decrease in number of days it took a department to complete the review process when compared with the previous system. How about an employee survey showing the overall satisfaction level with new methods of capturing and managing performance data. Demonstrating results quantitatively is a great way to show the traditional workforce the benefits of using these new tools.
So, how are you deploying new systems and technologies in your organization and driving adoption amongst all generations of your workforce? Share your thoughts in the comments or share them on social media. Remember, not everyone is going to be an early adopter, but when those who needed a little extra convincing finally do jump on-board, you can welcome them with that old adage - Better Late Than Never.