Seven years ago, we started talking about social media in HR. I remember this at a conference and nobody got it. In fact, pretty much all the HR people said that it was a bad idea, it was not for the workplace, and it would just get us into trouble. The concerns may have been justified at the time, and it was worth taking a less risky stance.
Five years ago, at another conference, social media was the big thing. People talked about what we could do, how we would implement, and how we could network the organization and bring everyone closer. But we never did it.
Today, we might finally have networks in most of our organizations. There is the easy ability to look someone up on the directory and chat or just connect with someone in another part of the organization, but we are not really using any of the functionality for HR. After all this time, we’re less excited only because nobody ever came to the plate and presented us with a technology option that just worked.
Here’s the thing – I’m really excited about all this interconnectedness because I start thinking about all the ways we could and should be applying the technology. I’m sick of only talking about Yammer and Rypple (now Work.com) for performance feedback. Let’s do it real time, and let’s actually do it. We thumbs up and down people (or their posts) all the time, but we as employees live in complete fear that negative feedback is going to screw one of our friendly relationships. Let me tell you something, when someone is great, everyone knows it. And when someone underperforms, that is also known. But instead of the same conclusion the manager will reach during the traditional performace review, let’s pretend the employee had the opportunity to get positive and negative feedback throughout the year. Let’s say that the employee had a chance to take corrective actions.
For the history of HR technology, we have not had the core capabilities to use social in HR. Trying to plant social on top of SAP or Oracle was probably not going to lead us to success. But everyone has new core foundations that can really enable this stuff, and I’m seeing that finally, HR technology has caught up with HR expectations. Five years ago we were ready, but our foundational technologies just needed some time. We were in contracts, or we just needed a few years to implement. Now we’re there and the next generation of HR applications that are based on cloud and social can actually happen.