Friday, July 05, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Maybe Following the Crowd Isn’t All that Bad

Books like Performance Appraisal Phrase Book abound to help managers capture the best words that describe an employee’s organizational contributions and personal challenges. With all these available resources, then, why do so many supervisors tell me that the employee performance review is the document they most dread writing?

Eric Mosley’s The Crowd Sourced Performance Review has a reasonable answer to that question and an innovative solution to the problem. It’s not so much that writing the performance review is hard because of its linguistic biases, generalities, inaccuracies, limitations, and redundancies. In fact, those major annoyances are the symptoms, not the cause, of the problem with traditional performance reviews. At its heart, insists Mosley, the evaluation system itself makes little sense.

Lessons learned from social media suggest that there’s a better way. While tweeting protesters during the Arab Spring of 2011 and uprising in Turkey of 2013 make the most headlines, multinational corporations and smaller businesses alike have long used social networking platforms to get out their brand to the world. The consensus is that through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the like, companies can tap into the wisdom of crowds and increase their brand recognition, bottom line, and community goodwill.

Mosley reports that some companies have begun to see the value of internal social networking in their performance reviews. By “crowdsourcing,” management can get insights from an employee’s colleagues, thereby eliminating the single source of opinion, the employee’s manager, which has been at the heart of the traditional system since its inception. A diversity of opinion and a greater range of assessment areas should result in a more accurate, comprehensive, and worthwhile employee review.

The author painstakingly covers the undeniable flaws of the traditional review system through numerous examples from the corporate world. He also shows how crowdsourcing currently works and how it can be folded into any organization serious about its employee development program. Skeptics may claim that crowdsourcing might amount to nothing more than a popularity contest, but The Crowd Sourced Performance Review recommends several safeguards against that scenario and concludes quite practically that crowdsourcing  be used in tandem with the traditional system.

With the technology available for providing key insights in revolutionizing a long-broken evaluation system, crowdsourcing is positively worth serious consideration. This book lays out a clear blueprint to get started.