Do You Know Your Employees? Social Intranets As The New Talent Management System

Imagine, for a moment, that you have accepted a new position as a corporate executive tasked with figuring our how to make your company work better, faster, cheaper. Along with the details of your position, you have been informed that you have access to a wealth of competitive intelligence, product experience, and innovative thinking at your fingertips. Sounds like a recipe for success, right?But what if you had no means of capturing, storing, and retrieving that information? Bad situation.

It’s likely, however, that it would be easy to justify an investment in a tool that would allow you to leverage the information. But what many execs don’t realize is that they actually have the potential for this exact type of information at their disposal…if they were to invest in a social Intranet platform.

Classic Talent Management Systems vs. Social Intranet

employees_brainsFor years, Intranet and HR professionals have been working to implement successful “Talent Management systems” with very little measurable success. The difficulty with legacy Talent Management systems is they required manual updates of employee history, competencies, training, and certifications and they rarely provide the employee with an opportunity to share their experience.

One of the  biggest shortcomings of these systems was the method used to capture and maintain the information. The process of updating employee records usually occurred (if at all) once a year during the employee annual review process. Managers would discuss employee competencies at the review and either update the system themselves or ask the employee to provide the updates. Unfortunately, a once-a-year update doesn’t provide the timely information required to operate a business and since the system was rarely referenced to identify subject matter experts, employees had no motivation to keep them up to date. As a result, these Talent Management systems quickly became outdated and useless and future investment in these types of tools were difficult to justify.

As Social Intranets are becoming more commonplace, however, a unique phenomena is occurring. Employees are sharing their previous experiences, subject knowledge, and expertise with fellow employees, management, and executives each day, providing a huge resource for internal knowledge that changes by the day, hour, and minute.

The Engagement Experience

To see how Social Intranets can play the valuable role of a Talent Management system, imagine a situation where a Sally Sales, a Sales Executive, creates a post on the Intranet forum asking:

sally_salesSally Sales: I am traveling to SmithCo Enterprises tomorrow to show them a demo of the latest version of our ERP  software. Does anyone have information about their culture, personnel, etc…that they can share?

Sam Support, a customer support rep – a role that isn’t traditionally engaged by Sales for input – posts back stating:

samSam Support: FYI, I used to work at SmithCo and you need to be aware that they are wary of “vaporware”. Be prepared to show the software in action and provide them with references of other customers who are using the latest version.  Also, I worked as a contractor with the team that implemented their existing BigCO ERP system and they have some serious limitations that need to be addressed relating to the accurate matching of POs, receipts, and invoices. If you can show how well we address that requirement, it will go a long way.

Able Accountant, an invoicing specialist chimes in with another post stating:

ableAble Accountant: I have used both our new version and the BigCO system they are using and the difference is night and day. Our automatic invoicing abilities are significantly better than BigCO and our implementation timeline averages 12 months, where BigCO’s implementation at my previous company took 36 months and was almost $1M over budget.

…and the conversation goes on.

While this type of dialog obviously helps the Sales Exec know how to refine their sales pitch, approach their prospect, and hopefully win the deal, there is a secondary benefit that is occurring behind the scenes. Employees are identifying what they know, where they have worked, what skills they hold, and whether they can be leveraged as subject matter experts on a specific product or topic.

As a result, the next time any Sales Executive is selling to SmithCo or any company where BigCo is implemented, a simple search of the Intranet for the terms “SmithCo” or “BigCo” will identify Sally Sales, Sam Support, and Able Accountant as resources that have information and experiences with the BigCo product. This is the exact result that Talent Management systems have sought to accomplish for years.

Through this one interaction, employees have reported to the company that they have valuable competitive information and the fact that they respond to posts like these frequently keeps their information up-to-date. While neither Sam or Able were hired into a position specific to tackling BigCo as a competitor, the fact that they both have and shared previous work experience potentially helped the company make a sale.

As the newest executive looking to improve processes and drive revenue through employee productivity, you now have a gold mine waiting to be tapped.

Comments And Reactions

  1. Agreed!!
    When I worked for 3000+ company, I really thought this kind of system was needed there.

  2. Morgan Norman says:

    Really interesting post, Sean. Talent management systems have come a long way in improving work experiences for offices everywhere. It is important to note that performance management is still stuck in the 1970s — even though employees are social in all other aspects of their lives. Employees today learn socially, and using a social performance management tool, such as WorkSimple, can help make the process fun and engaging. We offer a free product for anyone to test drive with unlimited users which I’d encourage you to try when you get a chance.

    Morgan Norman

  3. Great post! It’s definitely time for employers to utilize the social norm of interaction. I’ve seen the beginnings of companies connecting their employees with blogs, but few with a social interaction capability.

Speak Your Mind