Human Resources has jumped on the crowdsourcing bandwagon - leveraging a unique form of the social phenomenon to create better Performance Evaluations. Crowdsourcing was originally coined by Wired Magazine in 2006 Wired and typically refers to businesses involving a community of anonymous people to achieve a particular task, collaborate on a specific project, or solve a challenging issue. Leveraging a crowd for business tasks that have traditionally only involved one or two employees has the benefit of enhancing decision-making and idea generation as diversified opinions, perspectives and expertise are contributed.
Performance Evaluations that use collaborative rating systems are something that viaPeople is increasingly seeing requested from our clients. Although unlike with traditional crowdsourcing the community of anonymous Reviewers is typically internal to the organization, the benefits realized are equally impressive. Performance Evaluation software can easily leverage this mass collaboration by automating the entire process. Reviewers typically provide feedback on several evaluations in addition to their own. Further, the software can customize the evaluation form by Reviewer based on the role/relationship. In this way, reviewers are only providing feedback on performance they have the opportunity to readily observe.
As with any solid crowdsourcing effort, the generated content must be curated to ensure the output is optimal for the task at hand. In the case of Performance Evaluation, the content should be curated to be certain that feedback communicated to the employee is succinct, relevant, specific and constructive. This is typically the role of the Evaluation Director or Evaluating Manager, and occasionally a Co-Manager weighs in as well. The software should ideally allow the curator to view all reviewer input, including necessary aggregations and analyses, from one screen to facilitate a more thorough performance summary. Curators have noted that this crowdsourced approach has provided both detailed and specific performance examples, as well as significant trends visible across reviewers allowing them to create performance evaluations that reflect a much more complete perspective.
Across the board, we have found that participants are much more engaged in the overall Performance Evaluation process and and in the related development of the organization when crowdsourcing is leveraged. Additionally, each participant group realized a unique set of benefits:
- Curators are big proponents of the crowdsourced approach to Performance Evaluation as they are able to provide a more comprehensive and thoughtful review from the multiple ideas/perspectives offered.
- While evaluations have historically been limited to feedback from a manager, employees now have the added benefit of receiving performance feedback that reflects their multitude of working relationships.
- Reviewers have the opportunity to provide their unique perspectives on the employee’s performance and gain satisfaction from contributing their thoughts on strengths to be leveraged and opportunities for development. As in traditional crowdsourcing, Reviewer contributions are anonymous in nature and will never be directly viewed by the reviewee, although some organizations elect to attribute feedback for curator eyes only.
In the future, I would like to see HR leaders push crowdsourcing and curation even deeper into their performance management solutions. To truly tap the powerful dynamic of the masses, it is necessary to allow reviewers to collectively provide performance feedback. While currently, the curator is solely responsible for aggregating the information from the network, applying crowdsourcing in its more traditional light to Performance Evaluation would allow for anonymous discussions amongst Reviewers. Software that creates network visibility into the evaluation and allows reviewers to collaborate simultaneously would surely stimulate some thought-provoking discussions around performance. In fact, we are already starting to see some of this real-time collaboration in matrixed organizations amongst same level managers. Of course, this will not be the right move for every organization. Businesses with evolved, open and trusting cultures will fair best with this truly collaborative approach to Performance Evaluation.
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